Part 3: Environmental Assessment
5 Overview of Environmental Assessment
5.1.1 This chapter outlines the general approach followed for the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) Stage 2 environmental assessment of the Forth Replacement Crossing route corridor options, as reported in Chapters 6 to 18. More detailed methodologies are provided in the respective chapters.
5.1.2 Consultation is integral to the project and this chapter therefore describes the Stage 2 consultation process. An overview of the overall environmental consultation strategy for the Forth Replacement Crossing is also provided.
5.2 Scope and Guidance
DMRB Environmental Assessment
5.2.1 Annex E of Circular 8-2007 ‘Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1999’ (Scottish Government, 2007) relates to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of trunk road projects and refers to DMRB, first published in 1993 and subsequently amended and updated by the Highways Agency, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly and Department for Regional Development Northern Ireland.
5.2.2 DMRB sets out governmental guidance on the development of trunk road schemes including motorways and is applicable to the Forth Replacement Crossing. Volume 11 of DMRB specifically provides guidance on EIA, including the level of assessment required at key stages of development and the requirements for reporting environmental effects.
5.2.3 The objectives of Stage 2 assessment are to identify the factors and effects to be taken into account in the selection of route corridor options and to identify the environmental advantages, disadvantages and constraints associated with these route corridors.
Scheme Components Assessed
5.2.4 The following components of the Forth Replacement Crossing were considered in the environmental assessment and reported separately:
- Proposed Replacement Bridge;
- Northern Route Corridor Options; and
- Southern Route Corridor Options.
Proposed Replacement Bridge
5.2.5 For the purposes of assessing the route corridor options, the proposed replacement bridge (also referred to as the ‘main crossing’) was considered to be common to all options. The likely impact of the proposed replacement bridge is therefore reported within each chapter as noted above, but did not form part of the formal Stage 2 assessment in terms of route corridor selection.
Northern and Southern Route Corridor Options
5.2.6 This Stage 2 report provides the findings of the environmental assessment of the following route corridor options (as described in Part 1, Chapter 3 and illustrated on Figure 5.1):
- North Corridor Option 1;
- North Corridor Option 2;
- South Corridor Option 1; and
- South Corridor Option 2.
5.2.7 It should be noted that pre-Stage 2 environmental assessment of a much wider range of route corridor options and junction arrangements was also undertaken, with the issues identified during this process informing the development of the route corridor options and the decision regarding the route corridors to be reported at Stage 2. This process is described separately within the Jacobs Arup report ‘Forth Replacement Crossing, Route Options Review’.
Scope of Environmental Assessment
5.2.8 In accordance with DMRB Volume 11, assessment has been undertaken of the following environmental parameters (reported in chapters 6 to 18 respectively):
- Land Use;
- Geology, Contaminated Land and Groundwater;
- Water Environment (Hydrodynamics, Surface Water Quality and Hydrogeology);
- Ecology and Nature Conservation;
- Cultural Heritage;
- Air Quality;
- Traffic Noise and Vibration;
- Pedestrians, Cyclists, Equestrians and Community Effects;
- Vehicle Travellers;
- Disruption Due to Construction; and
- Policies and Plans.
5.2.9 Field and desk-based survey to inform DMRB Stage 2 (and for DMRB Stage 3 where appropriate, due to programming considerations) commenced in January 2008, although surveys for breeding and wintering birds began in 2007 (by MBEC; Mackenzie Bradshaw Environmental Consulting, on behalf of Transport Scotland) to ensure that the appropriate level of seasonal information was available.
5.2.10 The study area required or recommended by DMRB and best practice guidance varies depending on the specific environmental parameter being assessed but is typically 500m in each direction from the centreline of each route corridor option. However, baseline environmental surveys commenced in parallel with the pre-Stage 2 consideration of a wide range of options, and accordingly a wider study area was defined to enable flexibility in the progression of the route corridor options. This study area is shown on Figure 5.1.
5.3 Environmental Reporting
5.3.1 Each environmental chapter1 as listed in Section 5.2 (Scope and Guidance) provides the following:
- an introduction to the subject area;
- approach and methods used in the assessment;
- baseline conditions (i.e. the ‘existing’ situation);
- potential impacts of the proposed replacement bridge and the route corridor options;
- potential mitigation, focussing on standard or typical mitigation that is anticipated would be developed for the preferred route corridor at DMRB Stage 3;
- summary of route corridor options assessment (taking account of potential mitigation); and
5.3.2 The assessment of impacts on each environmental parameter is undertaken in comparison to baseline conditions, which were determined though field survey, desk-based review and consultation. Baseline conditions describes the existing environmental conditions at the site (and in the wider area as pertinent to the particular environmental parameter) including, where applicable, if/how this would be expected to change if the proposed scheme did not go ahead (i.e. the ‘Do Minimum’ scenario).
5.3.3 The general approach to assessment is based on the determination of impact significance from a combination of the sensitivity or importance of the baseline conditions (i.e. the current site and its environs, including the sensitivity of receptors) and the magnitude of potential impacts. This process is described in the respective environmental chapters, and where this approach was not appropriate (e.g. consideration of policy compliance in Chapter 18: Policies and Plans), alternative approaches are described and justified.
5.3.4 It should be noted that the magnitude and significance reported within the ‘Potential Impacts’ section of each chapter have been considered in the absence of mitigation. The ‘Summary of Route Corridor Options Assessment’ then takes into account potential mitigation as described below.
5.3.5 For the purposes of this DMRB Stage 2 route corridor options assessment, construction impacts2 are considered temporary. Any exceptions to this are noted. Operational impacts are considered long term or permanent, again with any exceptions being noted.
5.3.6 As noted within the respective environmental chapters, the detailed design has not been developed at DMRB Stage 2 assessment of route corridor options, and mitigation detail therefore cannot be confirmed. The assessments therefore identify ‘standard’ or ‘anticipated’ mitigation taking into account best practice, legislation and guidance and the experience of the team. Mitigation also takes into account principles identified in the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) (Jacobs et al., 2007a) and SEA Post Adoption Statement (Jacobs et al., 2008).
5.3.7 Generally, potential impacts of ‘Moderate’ or greater significance would be identified as priorities for mitigation. However, the need for mitigation will be confirmed during more detailed assessment at DMRB Stage 3.
Summary of Route Corridor Options Assessment
5.3.8 This section identifies likely residual impacts taking into account identified potential mitigation to provide a robust basis for comparative assessment and for the selection of a preferred route corridor option to be taken forward to DMRB Stage 3.
5.4.1 Consultation for the Forth Replacement Crossing is being undertaken according to the guidance provided in Planning Advice Note (PAN) 58: Environmental Impact Assessment (Scottish Executive, 1999) and with cognisance of PAN 81: Community Engagement (Scottish Executive, 2007). The importance of successful consultation has been strengthened by the Planning etc. (Scotland Act) 2006 (where pre-application consultations are a prerequisite for projects such as the Forth Replacement Crossing) and by the publication of best practice guidance set out in PAN 81 and other guidance documents.
5.4.2 New secondary legislation, stemming from the 2006 Act on procedures relating to processing planning applications (referred to as ‘development management‘) will be coming into force in stages from January 2009 through to June 2009 (Scottish Government, 2008). A significant element relates to new inclusion measures. The way ahead, as reflected in the 2006 Act, is to improve involvement at the development planning stage, when the local policy context for considering development proposals is being prepared, to allow local communities a greater role at the pre-application stages of certain applications, to influence the nature of the proposals themselves and to allow enhanced scrutiny during the processing of such applications. In addition, new measures to ensure greater awareness of proposals and transparency of decision-making are also being introduced.
5.4.3 As best practice and to meet the likely requirements of this future legislation, public participation is being encouraged as part of the progression of the Forth Replacement Crossing. Where appropriate, issues raised through the public participation process will be taken into consideration as part of the environmental assessment process.
5.4.4 Consultations will continue throughout the EIA process. At Stage 2, consultation will seek to:
- ensure that statutory consultees and other bodies with a particular interest in the environment 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.
5.4.5 A stakeholder mapping exercise was undertaken to establish a list of consultees. This process aimed to ensure that all relevant consultees were added to the stakeholder database, and involved the following stages:
- Review of stakeholders involved on other major projects and related studies in the Forth Estuary area. These included Kincardine Bridge, Setting Forth and previous studies for the Forth Replacement Crossing undertaken by Faber Maunsell. The list of stakeholders involved in the Strategic Transport Project Review (STPR) was also reviewed and used to identify stakeholders for the Forth Replacement Crossing.
- Input from the environment team. The environment team has been proactive in identifying additional consultees of importance to their area of expertise. These have been and will continue to be added to the database as appropriate.
- Consideration of the scale, size and impact of the proposed scheme. The wider community has been taken into consideration. In addition to those directly affected by the scheme (e.g. landowners), communities and local authorities outwith the direct area of influence have also been included where there is potential for the scheme to affect them. A large number of environmental organisations have also been included.
5.4.6 The organisations currently being consulted as part of the EIA are listed in Appendix A5.1. This comprises:
- statutory consultees;
- non-statutory consultees;
- community councils; and
- interest groups.
5.4.7 It should be noted that this chapter relates specifically to consultation in the context of environmental issues but that the Project Team and Transport Scotland are also undertaking separate consultations throughout the progression of the project.
Review of Previous Consultations
5.4.8 A review of consultations carried out as part of the following previous studies relating to the Forth area has been carried out and relevant comments taken into account during the scoping of issues:
- Forth Replacement Crossing Study including an appraisal of options following Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG).
- Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the short-listed options identified from the Forth Replacement Crossing Study.
- Appropriate Assessment of the SEA short-listed options. This considered the effects of the options on areas of the Firth of Forth designated for their European nature conservation value, at a strategic level.
Stage 2 Consultation
5.4.9 Early consultation with a range of statutory bodies, non-statutory bodies and community councils has taken place through a series of start-up briefings. These briefings were held during March 2008, and included 14 key consultees including environmental groups. Attendees included: Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Historic Scotland, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Forth Ports, West Lothian Council, representatives of the Crown Estate, Fisheries Research Services (FRC) and the National Trust for Scotland. One-to-one meetings were held with the following consultees who were unable to attend the briefing: Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Architecture & Design Scotland, Health and Safety Scotland, SESTRAN, Fife Council and City of Edinburgh Council
5.4.10 In total, 159 Stage 2 letters were issued to environmental consultees, the majority in March 2008. A plan showing the study area was enclosed with the letter. This point of contact provided an opportunity for consultees to provide any baseline information and scope key issues with statutory consultees.
5.4.11 Follow up letters were issued to environmental consultees in June 2008 to either confirm receipt of a response, or if no response was received, to provide the opportunity for consultees to request to be removed from the consultation list if they wished.
5.4.12 Both letters issued included information on how to obtain further information on the project and how to contact the Transport Scotland Forth Replacement Crossing Team. This included guidance on how to sign up to the electronic newsletter for regular updates, and details of a project enquiry line and mailbox address.
Stage 2 Consultation Responses
Scope of Assessment
5.4.13 Due to the scale and nature of the proposals, all environmental topic areas as identified in DMRB Volume 11 were scoped ‘in’ for further environmental assessment. The scope of assessment for each topic area was informed by review of previous studies and by relevant regulations and best practice guidance.
5.4.14 During the Stage 2 consultation, consultees had an opportunity to provide comment on the scope of the EIA.
5.4.15 Technical meetings and ongoing close liaison was undertaken with key consultees such as SNH and SEPA to ensure that key issues were identified and assessed appropriately. Due to the complex nature of field surveys and the sensitivity of the environment in the study area (e.g. Firth of Forth Site of Special Scientific Interest, SSSI; Special Protection Area, SPA; and Ramsar), an Ecology Scoping Report was prepared and issued to SNH and SEPA for comment.
5.4.16 Feedback from the Stage 2 consultation letters and start up briefings were collated and incorporated into the scheme design and EIA where appropriate. Previous consultation findings and the baseline information provided by consultees has been used to inform the assessment and is reported separately for each environmental topic area (chapters 6 to 18).
Overall Consultation Approach
5.4.17 Consultation undertaken to date is reported as part of Stage 2. However, consultation is an integral and ongoing component of the project. This section identifies the key stages in this process, and Table 5.1 provides an overview of the consultation programme.
Table 5.1: Consultation Programme
Date of Consultation
February – June 2008
Project start up briefings
Stage 2 consultation letters issued
Stage 2 public exhibitions
Stage 3 consultation letters
Late 2008 – Mid 2009
Ongoing consultation to develop the detailed design and appropriate mitigation within preferred corridor.
Consultation on published Environmental Statement
Stage 3 Consultation
5.4.18 Stage 3 consultation letters will be issued to environmental consultees to invite comments, request more detailed information and inform the development of appropriate mitigation.
5.4.19 In addition to the Stage 3 letters, further consultation will be required with statutory, non statutory consultees and landowners. The nature of these consultations is yet to be confirmed, however they are likely to be in the form of stakeholder forums, workshops and/or one-to-one meetings. Ongoing liaison will occur throughout the design process in the form of telephone discussions, emails and letters.
5.4.20 A series of Stage 2 public exhibitions will be held in early 2009 at various locations around the Forth area. These will present the route corridor options assessed and provide an opportunity for members of the public to influence the detailed design of the preferred corridor. Further public exhibitions will be held at the end of Stage 3.
5.4.21 The exhibitions will support the formal EIA consultation process (i.e. Stage 2 and Stage 3 consultations). Queries and comments raised during the public exhibitions will be taken into account during the design and environmental assessment process. Feedback forms (both electronic and hard copy) will be made available.
Logging Correspondence and Feedback
5.4.22 All correspondence is logged so that the information can usefully inform the assessment and so that the consultation process is clearly auditable and transparent. The parliamentary procedure for private bills requires that an explanation of the consultation process within the Promoter’s Memorandum. This will be presented in the form of a Consultation Report which will provide an overview of the consultation process undertaken for the Forth Replacement Crossing and will clearly demonstrate what has changed as a result of consultation and how the involvement has influenced the preparation of documents.
Jacobs / Faber Maunsell / AECOM (2007a). Forth Replacement Crossing Study - Strategic Environmental Assessment – Environmental Report. Prepared on behalf of Transport Scotland.
Jacobs / Faber Maunsell / AECOM (2007b). Transport Scotland Forth Replacement Crossing Study. Strategic Environmental Assessment. Information to Inform Appropriate Assessment. Report by Faber Maunsell/AECOM to Jacobs, December 2007.
Jacobs / Faber Maunsell / AECOM (2007c). Transport Scotland Strategic Transport Projects Review. Prepared on behalf of Transport Scotland.
Jacobs / Faber Maunsell / AECOM (2008). Forth Replacement Crossing Study - Strategic Environmental Assessment – Post Adoption Statement.
Scottish Government (2007). Circular 8-2007: Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1999.
Scottish Executive (2007). Planning Advice Note (PAN) 81: Community Engagement.
Scottish Government (2008). Timetable for Implementation of the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006. Updated: June 2008.
The Highways Agency et al. (1993). DMRB Volume 11, June 1993. The Highways Agency, Scottish Executive Development Department, The National Assembly for Wales and The Department of Regional Development Northern Ireland.