This chapter describes the consultation process that was undertaken throughout the various stages of the EIA process and provides a summary of the key issues raised by consultees. It also includes relevant responses from consultations that were undertaken as part of the Scoping Report (Scotland TranServ, 2013). Consultation is a key and fundamental part of the EIA process; in the case of this project, it has been informed by the key environmental issues identified during the scoping stage. Scoping was undertaken in 2012 including the scoping consultations. The scoping responses were received during the same year. It was agreed to initially consult by e-mail and letter. Further consultations during the EIA process were undertaken from 2013 to 2016. Re-consultation with statutory consultees will be carried out as the design progresses, as will consultation with non-statutory consultees and other stakeholders.
The Consultation Process
The consultation process serves to:
- seek to ensure that statutory consultees and other bodies with a particular interest in the environment within the area of the proposed scheme are informed of the proposal and provided with an opportunity to comment;
- obtain baseline information regarding existing environmental site conditions;
- establish key environmental issues and identify potential impacts to be considered during the EIA;
- identify those issues which are likely to require more detailed study and those which can be justifiably excluded from further assessment; and
- provide a means of identifying the most appropriate methods of impact assessment.
Although consultation is an important part of the EIA process, it may continue in an iterative manner throughout the detailed planning and design stages of the project.
Consultation has been informed by the key environmental issues identified and as a result, the following statutory and non-statutory consultees have been consulted:
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA);
- Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH);
- Highland Council Historic Environment Team;
- Ness District Salmon Fishery Board; and
- Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust.
A summary of responses and details of how concerns have been addressed are provided in Table 4.1. Further consultation will be undertaken with all parties to address their concerns and to obtain the necessary licences.
Table 4.1 Summary of consultee responses and actions taken
An appropriate assessment will be required which examines the impact on freshwater pearl mussels. Advice was provided in relation to the bat roosts and the need for a licence to destroy the roosts.
- A report known as Report to Inform Appropriate Assessment (RIAA) has been produced, examining the impact on the qualifying features of the River Moriston SAC. The RIAA concluded no impact on the integrity of the qualifying interests of the SAC.
- A number of bat surveys have been undertaken to inform the nature of the roost. These will be repeated prior to the works being undertaken. The contractor will work with SNH to develop mitigation and a licence to destroy the bat roosts will be obtained prior to work commencing.
CAR licence will be required due to both bridge construction and Allt Lagain Bhain realignment. Flood risk issues were highlighted and SEPA wish to be provided with the flood risk assessment.
- CAR licence will be obtained in advance of the works for construction of bridge and river realignment.
- Flood risk assessment has been provided to SEPA who have now agreed that capacity is sufficient.
Highland Council Archaeology Unit
Masonry bridge is of historic interest and other options should be considered in preference to demolition.
- Other options were considered that would remove the need to demolish the historic bridge, however for reasons of logistics and safety, a viable alternative could not be found.
- A level 3 standing building survey has been undertaken to record the historic bridge. This fully meets the specification provided by the Highland Council and a watching brief will be undertaken during demolition.
Ness District Salmon Fishery Board
Ensure that works do not prevent the upstream migration of fish or result in any contamination of the water. Avoid perched culvert in finished design.
- Extensive measures have been incorporated to prevent pollution during the works (see Sections 6.7.3, 8.6.2 and 8.7.2).
- The design is such that there will not be steps in the river bed, with the invert being buried and a natural bed reinstated.
Ness and Beauly District Fisheries Trust
Timing of the works is critical – avoid 15 October to 31 May. Consider removal of fish during realignment.
- The project will be timed to avoid in-river works during the salmonid spawning season. This is also anticipated to be a requirement of the CAR licence.
- Mitigation to avoid impacts on fish include their removal and relocation during realignment by means of electrofishing.
Scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment
Throughout the development of options and the development of the preferred option, the issues requiring environmental assessment have been identified through review of the Scoping Report (Scotland TranServ, 2013) and re-assessment as new information (such as further survey information) has been made available. The scope of the EIA has been defined in accordance with the DMRB guidance and has also been informed through consultation with stakeholders. This has resulted in certain issues being 'scoped out' on the basis of no significant effects predicted and, therefore, not considered further. This section lists the issues which have been scoped 'in' or 'out' of the EIA and discusses, where appropriate, the justification for not considering them further. Table 4.2 summarises issues scoped 'in' and 'out' for further assessment.
Table 4.2 Summary of Scoping Assessment as given in the Scoping Report Scotland TranServ, 2013)
Air Quality - Out
Although a slight adverse impact is predicted on air quality during construction, this is temporary and not considered significant, especially with no receptors within 200 m. With a neutral long term significance of effect it is considered that provided standard best practice mitigation during construction is adopted, then further assessment is not required. Air quality is, therefore, scoped out of assessment and not considered further in the Environmental Statement (ES).
Cultural Heritage - In
During consultation with the Highland Council Historic Environment Team, concerns were raised in relation to the historic masonry arch bridge despite not being recorded at the time in the Highland Historic Environment Record. Due to the Large or Very Large predicted significance of effect, as a result of demolition and loss of bridge of significant historic value, cultural heritage is scoped in for assessment within the ES.
Ecology and Nature Conservation - In
A Large or Very Large significance of effect has been predicted for bat species, based on survey and design work carried out to date. Further survey and design work will be carried out to better understand the nature of this impact and to investigate opportunities for mitigation and impact reduction. The Scoping Report identified that further assessment of the impact on all protected species, habitats and designated areas is also required. All the issues highlighted in the Ecology and Nature Conservation Section are therefore scoped in to the ES.
Landscape Effects - In
A slight adverse effect was predicted and not considered to be significant. However, due to the current status of designs, the exact nature of this impact is considered to be sufficiently unclear and landscape effects are scoped in for further assessment within the ES.
Land Use - Out
Land take as part of the project is unavoidable and the predicted slight adverse effect is not considered to be significant. Further assessment within the ES therefore is not required and land use is scoped out.
Noise and Vibration - Out
Although works are anticipated to take nine months to complete, there are no sensitive residential receptors within 200 m of the proposed scheme. As there is no significant impact predicted due to noise and vibration, this discipline is scoped out and not considered further in the ES.
Pedestrians, Cyclists and Equestrians - Out
As there are no existing or known planned footways, cycleways, cycle tracks or paths on this route, it is not necessary to consider their provision further within this project. As there is no adverse long-term impact predicted, further assessment is not necessary and this section is scoped out of the environmental statement.
Due to the slight adverse construction related impact it is proposed to include measures designed to minimise disruption to pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians in the schedule of environmental commitments within the ES.
Vehicle Travellers - Out
Due to the slight or moderate beneficial effect of the finished proposed scheme, further assessment of the effect on vehicle travellers is scoped out of the ES. There will be some disruption to vehicle travellers during construction. Measures will however be included within the schedule of environmental commitments aimed at reducing the impact on vehicle travellers during construction. A temporary road and bridge diversion will be provided alongside the existing road.
Road Drainage and the Water Environment - In
A moderate or large significant adverse impact is predicted during the construction phase. Further assessment of the Road Drainage and the Water Environment is required and has, therefore, been scoped in to the ES.
Geology and Soils - Out
The predicted level of impact (neutral or slight) is not considered to be significant, therefore, geology and soil is scoped out of further assessment within the ES. In accordance with best practice, measures will be included within the schedule of environmental commitments to further minimise the impact on geology and soils.
Cumulative Effects - In
The Scoping Report concluded that the significance of cumulative impacts could be slight to moderate for Ecology and Nature Conservation; Landscape Effects; and Road Drainage and the Water Environment only. Therefore cumulative effects have been scoped in for further assessment in the ES.
The environmental statement includes an assessment of the following topics, as these were identified in the Scoping Report as requiring further assessment:
- Cultural Heritage
- Ecology and Nature Conservation;
- Landscape Effects; and
- Road Drainage and the Water Environment.
Where relevant, best practice measures have been included in the Schedule of Environmental Commitments (see Chapter 11). This will serve to minimise any temporary, minor, construction related impacts associated with these topics.