6 Economics and Employment
6 Economics and Employment
This section considers the potential health and wellbeing issues arising from economic effects such as employment and transport related social exclusion, as a result of the construction and operation of the proposed scheme. Economic effects would occur over a range of geographical areas, ranging from local to regional level impacts. Issues considered in this section include:
- regional economic issues associated with the proposed scheme and alternative options – broad effects on economic activity and access to employment and training opportunities; and
- local effects – direct and indirect impacts on businesses resulting from land-take, changes in journey times to employment and economic centres, opportunities for employment and training.
A review undertaken by the Greater London Authority (2005) has described the health effects of unemployment as follows: ‘[unemployment is] a significant risk factor for poor physical and mental health and a major determinant of health inequalities. It is associated with morbidity, injuries and premature mortality, especially through increased risk of coronary heart disease. It is also related to depression, anxiety, and self-harm’.
Most documented linkages between employment and health are related to the negative impacts of unemployment, rather than the positive impacts of employment. However, it follows that measures to promote economic growth and employment opportunities would generally be positive and serve to reduce the adverse health effects associated with unemployment and low incomes.
6.2.2 Transport Related Social Exclusion
Health Scotland’s HIA Guidance (Health Scotland, 2007) presents data from Scotland and the UK highlighting the links between poor transport and social exclusion. The guidance reports that two out of five jobseekers cite lack of transport as a barrier to getting a job. Car ownership is closely related to social class and income, and those living in households without a car report finding it harder to access shops, employment, healthcare and other services.
Not only are people from deprived communities less likely to have access to a car, but they are also more likely to experience disproportional exposure to the harmful effects of cars. Since economic factors limit people’s choice as to where to live, areas with less favourable environmental conditions are likely to contain higher levels of deprivation. In its report Tackling Obesities, the UK Government Office for Science Foresight (2007) suggests that people living in more deprived communities may suffer the health impacts of living in less walkable, more degraded environments.
Transport and other infrastructure projects have the potential to influence health and socio-economic inequalities. More deprived communities tend to be more vulnerable to further environmental degradation as they are seen as having lower sensitivity to environmental change and are therefore more likely to be subject to development that gives rise to visual impacts and pollution. Health Scotland’s HIA Guidance reports on the health impacts of construction of new roads and/or upgrading of existing roads on access to healthcare, health inequalities or physical activity. However, there is no available research evidence to support the impacts of new roads on respiratory health, mental health, physical activity and access to health services.
The provision of developments that support reliable and affordable public transport can however, benefit those with limited employment options. According to the Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities (Scottish Government, 2008) increasing the accessibility of services can improve people's life chances and reduce social exclusion.
Development schemes can affect different members of the community in different ways. Groups identified in the Health Scotland’s HIA Guidance as being particularly vulnerable to transport-related social and economic exclusion include women, the unemployed, the elderly, people with health problems and those in low income groups. The problems associated with lack of access to a car are compounded for those living in rural areas where fewer local services are available.
Key vulnerable groups identified in relation to the proposed scheme include the following:
Disability and Long Term Illness:
- Mobility impaired people and people with impaired vision would find it more difficult to deal with changes in their local environment, such as footpath diversions during construction.
- Those with hearing problems may suffer more as a result of increased background noise.
- People with respiratory disorders may be more affected by dust and vehicle emissions.
- People suffering from mental illness may have more difficulty dealing with issues such as uncertainty as to the effects of the proposed scheme, and may be more likely to suffer from increased stress and anxiety as a result of disruption and environmental changes.
Older People and Children:
- Older people and children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Children are more likely to suffer from asthma, which can be exacerbated by traffic-related pollutants.
- Older people are more likely to be affected by impaired mobility, hearing and sight, as discussed above.
- Areas of open space are important for children’s development in terms of levels of activity and social interaction. Children may therefore be more vulnerable to changes in the accessibility or amenity value of these areas.
Minority Ethnic Groups:
According to the Scottish Household Survey (2007) between 2001 and 2005, adults from minority ethnic groups are less likely to hold a driving licence (48%) than white ethnic groups (66%). This implies that minority groups may be less likely to benefit directly from proposed road improvements, whilst being equally affected by associated environmental effects of the proposed scheme.
6.3 Existing Conditions
According to 2009 statistics published by the Scottish Government (Scottish Government, 2009), the rate of unemployment in Scotland as a whole is 4.7%. Within the study area for the proposed scheme, unemployment is higher on the north side of the Forth, with Fife having a rate of 5.5%, significantly higher than the national average. Unemployment is lowest in Edinburgh, at 3.8%. The Scottish Government data on working age employment and claimant unemployment are presented in Table 8 below.
Table 8: Labour Market Profiles for the Proposed Scheme Study Area (2009)
Employment rate (working age)
Claimant unemployment rate
The highest concentration of employment opportunities in the vicinity of the proposed scheme is located within the City of Edinburgh. There is a high level of commuting into Edinburgh from the surrounding region, including areas to the north of the Forth. The Forth Road Bridge is a major route for commuting into the urban area of Edinburgh from the north of the Firth of Forth.
Current levels of economic activity are higher on the south side of the Forth than the north side, and forecasts suggest that this trend is set to continue. The Transport and Economic Land use Model of Scotland (TELMoS) is a forecasting tool developed by Transport Scotland to assist in the assessment of different policy and strategies on land use and transport provision. The model predicts the highest levels of economic growth on the south side of the Firth of Forth, in West Lothian, Midlothian and Southeast Edinburgh, suggesting that the comparative difference in economic activity to the north and south of the Firth of Forth is set to continue. Given the known causal links between economic circumstances, social inclusion and health, this diffential is likely to be linked to existing and future health inequalities.
6.3.2 Local Businesses
There are a number of businesses located within the immediate vicinity of the proposed development including agricultural holdings, leisure facilities, hotels and small to medium sized enterprises.
6.3.3 Economic and Social Deprivation
Data on the levels of deprivation within the study area has been obtained from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) (2006). The SIMD combines 37 indicators across 7 domains, namely: current income, employment, health, education, skills and training, housing, geographic access and crime. The data zones, which have a median population size of 769, are ranked from most deprived (1) to least deprived (6,505) on the overall SIMD and on each of the individual domains. The result is a comprehensive picture of relative area deprivation across Scotland.
Figure 2 below shows an overview of the SIMD rankings for the areas around the proposed scheme. There is a high degree of variation in deprivation levels throughout the study area. Rural areas tend to be in the mid-rankings, whereas urban areas are more polarised with a high proportion of data zones in the top or bottom 20% of the rankings.
Figure 2: SIMD Rankings in the Vicinity of the Proposed Scheme
6.3.4 Transport Related Social Exclusion
The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) provides an overall rating for all types of deprivation, and a rating for geographic access. A comparison of these ratings within the study area shows that, in general, areas of high deprivation do not suffer from particularly poor transport access. Transport studies undertaken as part of the FRC Sustainability Assessment have identified areas of transport-related social exclusion, where poor transport accessibility contributes significantly to the experience of social exclusion, based on existing transport studies and SIMD data. The following areas were considered to be affected by transport related social exclusion:
- Cowdenbeath, just north of the immediate study area in Fife;
- Kelty, north of Cowdenbeath, off junction 4 of the M90;
- East Wemyss and Methil, along the Forth coast in East Fife; and
- the Craigshill area of Livingston, west of the study area in West Lothian.
The existence of a traffic route across the Firth of Forth facilitates commuting between the north and south, with the majority of commuters travelling southwards towards employment in and around Edinburgh. Employment opportunities on the south of the Firth of Forth are likely to be more accessible to people in higher socio-economic groups with the advantages of higher educational attainment and access to private transport. Conversely, limited access to local employment as a result of the disparity in levels of economic activity is likely to impact on those lower socio-economic groups, particularly in areas with limited public transport.
6.4 Impact Assessment
6.4.1 Operational Effects
Reports by the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) on the structural condition and strength of the Forth Road Bridge indicated that the bridge could not continue to function as the major road crossing of the Firth of Forth without major maintenance works including main cable replacement. These works would require full or partial closure of the Forth Road Bridge with an estimated period of traffic disruption of eight years. If no replacement bridge were provided, cross-Forth travel would reduce, with a consequential impact on the economies to the north and south of the Firth of Forth.
In the case of full closure, road traffic would have to travel via one of the upstream crossing points at Kincardine or in the Stirling area, significantly increasing the distance travelled. Partial closures would create very significant traffic congestion and is considered undesirable in the absence of a replacement crossing as the impacts on the economy, people and communities would be too severe.
FETA undertook a preliminary economic assessment as part of its cable augmentation study (FETA, 2008) addressing the wider impacts of these works on the local economies of Fife and the Lothian’s and the national economy of Scotland as a result of traffic disruption, delays and reduced accessibility. This study showed that the works would potentially increase costs to the travelling public, add to distribution costs, affect customer markets, and lead to a competitive disadvantage. The inconvenience and added cost of travel could potentially discourage tourism and reduce recreational travel. The net effect would be to reduce business and government revenues resulting in a contraction in economic activity and a loss of jobs.
The assessment of the disruptive impacts of these works supports the economic justification for the construction of the proposed scheme. The effect of the proposed scheme would be to maintain the status-quo in terms of the regional economy, avoiding the adverse economic effects of the alternative options. As such the proposed scheme would avoid potential increases in economic deprivation, and associated health and wellbeing impacts, for communities on both sides of the Firth of Forth.
Effects on Local Businesses
Indirect effects on business are likely to be both positive and negative depending on the location of the business and how it is affected by changes in traffic flows and journey times on local roads, with a positive overall balance.
The new bridge will improve the reliability and resilience of the crossing and thus improve accessibility for local businesses. The Main Crossing incorporates a hard shoulder and wind shielding, which together with the improved connecting roads and proposed ITS, will improve journey times and reliability.
Compared with the considerable disruption that would result from major maintenance works expected on the Forth Road Bridge in the absence of the proposed scheme, the disruptive effects of construction on local business will be relatively much smaller. Therefore on this basis the impact of the proposed scheme on local businesses and business in the wider area will, overall, be positive.
Access to Employment
As described in Section 6.3.1 above, there is a disparity in employment opportunities to the north and south of the Firth of Forth.
The proposed scheme maintains free-flow connections for general traffic between the M90 in the north and the M9 and A90 in the south. The replacement crossing will have a wider deck than the Forth Road Bridge, a higher speed limit and hard shoulders. These features are likely to improve speed over the Main Crossing as well as improving journey time reliability. The improved connecting roads with the associated ITS also assist traffic flow and reduce journey time variability. The improved speed and associated improvements will generate journey time benefits which mean that despite the additional distance travelled, journey times are reduced by comparison to the Do-Minimum scenarios. This should improve access to jobs and bring associated benefits for health and wellbeing.
Some additional job creation may result from the operation of the scheme as the Forth Road Bridge and the replacement crossing will increase overall maintenance and operating requirements.
Overall it is considered that the proposed scheme would have a positive impact on health and wellbeing resulting from improved access to local employment.
Transport Related Social Exclusion
In addition to maintaining the transport link across the Forth, the proposed scheme creates a new, high capacity public transport crossing of the Firth of Forth and incorporates measures such as the ITS and priority bus routes which would provide additional benefits for local public transport. If bus journey times are reduced as a result of these improvements, employment opportunities could be opened up to a wider section of the community including those in lower income groups who may not have access to a car.
Effects on Residential Property
The scheme does not require the compulsory purchase of any residential properties. However, there will be areas of direct land-take and any acquisition of land will be compensated in accordance with Transport Scotland guidance. Guidance to compensation entitlement is available on Transport Scotland’s website (Transport Scotland, 2009b).
There is potential for properties within South Queensferry to benefit, particularly those close to the existing A90 where traffic flows would be reduced. Conversely, properties closer to the works will be adversely affected.
The proposed scheme has been designed to minimise adverse effects on property, and measures such as visual screening and noise insulation would be put in place as appropriate. However there remains potential for anxiety among local residents in relation to property values.
6.4.2 Construction Effects
Wider Economic Effects
Major construction projects can have beneficial knock-on effects on the economy as a result of:
- Spend by the construction workforce within the local economy on accommodation, bars and restaurants, leisure facilities, food shops etc.
- Sourcing of materials such as aggregates from local suppliers.
The construction phase has the potential to increase economic activity, which in turn could contribute to incomes and employment. This will provide local benefits. Indirect beneficial effects on social exclusion and health are therefore possible as a result of the construction process.
Effects on Property
During construction, issues such as noise, dust and traffic would reduce the attractiveness of properties close to the works. There is a potential for actual or perceived effects on property values to cause distress to residents, with health effects manifested in the form of stress and anxiety.
Guidance on the entitlement to compensation during construction is available on Transport Scotland’s website (Transport Scotland, 2009b).
Effects on of Traffic Disruption
Traffic disruption, particularly during the works to Ferrytoll Junction could result in loss of business for some local employers. Transport Scotland’s consultations with local businesses indicated that business owners were concerned about the effects of construction, particularly in relation to increased journey times for potential clients, tourists and visitors, causing loss of business. These are real and legitimate concerns. However, this effect should also be considered against a baseline of the long scale major disruption from the works required to maintain the Forth Road Bridge in the absence of a replacement crossing which will cause traffic disruption that is much greater than the proposed scheme. Relative to this scenario, business impacts will be lesser for the proposed scheme.
Access to Employment and Training
The works to construct the Main Crossing and connecting roads and bridges will take some five and a half years with works expected to commence in 2011.
The construction phase will create employment and training opportunities for local people. Whilst many construction jobs would require specific skills to be imported from outside the study area, there is also opportunity for less skilled workers. The level of any associated health benefits will depend on the extent of employment opportunities that are accessible to relatively more deprived sections of the community. This can be assisted by measures to remove barriers, such as transport and skills, for vulnerable people. The benefits depend on action being taken by individuals to take advantage of employment opportunities.
The construction programme will allow for significant on-the-job training and skills development, which could benefit people from within local communities, including those more deprived pockets within the local areas. Again these benefits are dependent both on suitable training being made available, opportunities being publicised to local people and barriers to access being addressed.
The construction phase of the scheme will present an opportunity to reduce impacts of unemployment and social exclusion to a small degree. Whilst the construction phase would not affect regional employment levels, there is potential for local people to benefit.
6.5 Mitigation Measures
Mitigation measures for land use and business impacts are listed in Chapter 7, Chapter 19 and Chapter 23 of the ES (Jacobs Arup, 2009a). Of most relevance to the HIA are:
- maintaining access to agricultural land, woodland, residential properties and businesses during construction;
- consulting with landowners and occupiers in advance of construction works;.
- adhering to best practice in order to control dust generation and disposal; and
- commitment to implement a Traffic Management Plan with actions to manage traffic and minimise disruption during construction.
6.6 Assessment of Health Effects
The effects on health have been assessed according to the criteria set out in the Merseyside Guidelines (see Section 4.6).
The available evidence (see Section 6.2) indicates an identified causal link between economics and health and the degree of certainty is generally considered to be probable. However, as economic issues related to construction require an action in order to achieve the potential health effect, the degree of certainty is considered to be speculative. Employment and income have very broad and diverse effects on health, and as such it is not possible to describe the nature of the impact beyond a general beneficial or adverse effect on health and wellbeing. As such the health impacts in this section are considered to be qualitative.
The proposed scheme would secure a viable road crossing of the Forth for the foreseeable future and as such wider area economic benefits are expected in the long term. It is considered therefore that the proposed scheme would have positive effects on unemployment and social exclusion, resulting in moderate health benefits. The proposed scheme would improve public transport journey times thus potentially reducing transport-related social exclusion, reducing health inequalities and providing better access to employment opportunities.
The construction period would involve local disruption and increased journey times, which would have an adverse effect on local businesses. This would have a minor negative effect on individual owners and employees of the affected businesses. However it should be noted that the impacts on local businesses from the major repair works to the Forth Road Bridge in the absence of the proposed scheme would outweigh the adverse effects associated with the construction period.
Positive effects are also expected for local businesses and suppliers during construction. The potential for increased earnings and employment and training opportunities may result in minor positive effects on general wellbeing.
The construction period would give rise to direct employment and training opportunities which would have the potential to benefit people from within the local communities. This would have a minor positive effect on health and wellbeing.
The actual or perceived effects of the proposed scheme on property values may give rise to minor negative health effects for a small number of residents through increased anxiety during construction. Health impacts related to anxiety about property values are not known at this stage, although it is considered that small scale positive and negative property value changes are both possible.
6.7 HIA-Specific Mitigation
Transport Scotland will seek to create local training and employment opportunities during construction.