9 Access to Services

9 Access to Services

9.1 Introduction

This section examines the health and wellbeing impacts resulting from the effects of the proposed scheme on access to services, including:

  • health and social services;
  • local shops and facilities such as post offices, banks, libraries; and
  • leisure and recreational facilities such as cinemas, sports and leisure centres.

Local services and facilities have been identified within the Pedestrians, Cyclists, Equestrians and Community Effects assessment, Chapter 17 of the ES. This assessment considers the direct effects of the proposed scheme on access resulting from physical severance and local changes in traffic flows. Direct impacts on the quality of services resulting from environmental change are considered in other sections of this report (Air Quality, Noise).

9.1.1 Study Area

The study area focuses on those communities that are local to the proposed scheme and where the most significant impacts are expected in terms of changes to the length of journeys and access to services. These include the settlements of North Queensferry, Inverkeithing and Rosyth on the north side of the Firth of Forth, and on the south side of the Firth of Forth, South Queensferry, Kirkliston, Winchburgh with smaller communities such as Newton as well as a number of individual cottages and farmsteads.

9.2 Evidence of Health Effects

Access to services has a direct effect on health and wellbeing in terms or the ability to access health and social care. In addition, local facilities and services can influence health determinants such as diet, social interaction, exercise and economic factors.

Health Scotland’s Guidance on HIA of Transport Initiatives (2007) states that ‘although access to essential services may be linked to health, the potential for a road to have a substantial impact on these factors would depend on the specific nature of the severance and the reliance of the affected population on local services and networks bisected by a new road’.

The Sustainable Development Commission (2008) in its report ‘Health, Place and Nature’ states that ‘accessible local facilities such as shops, pubs, schools and libraries, can provide opportunities for social interaction and help create a sense of community. The location of shops and services, and the travel connections to them, can determine whether people attend healthcare appointments and influence levels of physical activity and social contact’.

It is assumed that there is a positive relationship between access to health services and health due to the effects of treatment and preventative medicine, and that access to general services and amenities is likely to have a positive effect on wellbeing and quality of life.

9.2.1 Health Inequalities

It has been shown that people who are socially excluded may experience a number of factors that have a negative impact on gaining access to health services including low income, disability and age coupled with poor transport provision or services sited in inaccessible locations (Health Development Agency, 2004).

9.3 Existing Conditions

9.3.1 Regional Context

Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website provides data on access to key facilities at local authority level, in terms of average journey times. Access to a hospital is very good for both West Lothian and Fife. Access to GP surgeries is above the Scottish national average for West Lothian, but below it for Fife, and access to dentists is poor for both areas. The data also shows that access to other services, including libraries, police stations, job centres and citizen’s advice centres, is generally better than the national average for both areas.

9.3.2 Local Services and Links

A list of community facilities identified within the study area can be found in Chapter 17 of the ES (Jacobs Arup, 2009a). Below is a summary of facilities in the neighbourhoods around the proposed scheme and the key links between these areas.

(a) North of the Firth of Forth

To the north of the Firth of Forth are the village of North Queensferry and the towns of Rosyth and Inverkeithing. North Queensferry has a school, community centre and convenience store. However it relies on Inverkeithing and Rosyth to provide a wider range of shops and services. Inverkeithing has various shops and services along the High Street and Church Street. These include a post office, doctor’s surgery, police station, schools, churches and community centres. Services in Rosyth are distributed throughout the town and include two post offices, doctors’ surgeries, schools, a police station, a fire station, leisure facilities and churches. All three communities have a train station.

The existing A90/M90 causes severance between Rosyth to the west and Inverkeithing and North Queensferry to the east. Vehicle and pedestrian links from Inverkeithing to Rosyth are via the Dunfermline Wynd road bridge and Admiralty Junction.

Footpaths around Ferrytoll Junction provide a link from North Queensferry to Rosyth, although given the distance of approximately 5km the majority of journeys are made by car or public transport. All modes of transport between North Queensferry and Rosyth travel via Ferrytoll Junction. North Queensferry residents also travel to facilities in South Queensferry across the Forth Road Bridge. The most direct access to the Forth Road Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists travelling from North Queensferry is via a set of steps from the B981 leading to the footpath alongside the A90. Pedestrians and cyclists can also access the A90 footpaths and cycle routes (east and west) off the B981 south of Ferrytoll Junction, where a ramp links to the B981 to the A90.

(b) South of the Firth of Forth

South Queensferry contains a range of facilities which serve both the residents of the town and the wider rural areas. These include a range of shops, doctors’ surgeries, a police station, a fire station, several schools, churches, community centres and leisure facilities. The majority of facilities are located around the town centre to the east of the A90.

South Queensferry is severed by the existing A90, which runs through the town. Pedestrians and vehicles can cross beneath the carriageway along Shore Road and Hopetoun / Bo’Ness Roads in the northern part of the town, and vehicles can cross at Echline Junction to the south. High traffic volumes along the A904 Builyeon Road contribute to existing severance by increasing journey times into South Queensferry from rural areas and villages such as Newton to the west of the town.

The majority of journeys into South Queensferry from surrounding rural areas are made by car or bus. However there are also well used pedestrian routes into the town centre from Echline and Linn Mill to the west. Functional and recreational walking routes also exist between South Queensferry and Newton.

Further south, Kirkliston village, adjacent to the proposed M9 Junction 1a, contains a small number of local facilities which also serve residents of Winchburgh, a village to the west along the B9080. These include leisure facilities, schools and a doctor’s surgery.

9.4 Impact Assessment

9.4.1 North of the Forth

(a) Operational Effects

The proposed scheme would not result in the direct loss of services and facilities. However it has the potential to affect access through changes in vehicle, pedestrian and cycle journeys. These effects arise from the proposed new road infrastructure which requires the realignment and diversion of several pedestrian and cycle paths around Ferrytoll Junction.

The section of the B981 running parallel to the A90 (on the west side) would be realigned to run further west around the water treatment works to Ferrytoll Road. This would slightly reduce journey times for pedestrians and cyclists using the B981 footpath to travel between Rosyth and North Queensferry. However the realignment would have an adverse impact on journeys from North Queensferry to Inverkeithing along the B981 (via Ferrytoll Junction).

An alternative route for users travelling between North Queensferry and Inverkeithing has been provided which involves utilising a new Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant ramp which would link the B981 to the footpath on the west side of the A90. At this location a new controlled crossing point would also be provided allowing access to the eastern footpath leading to Ferrytoll Junction or the Forth Road Bridge. From here pedestrians can head east to Inverkeithing. Although significantly shorter than the realigned B981, this alternative would still be 361m longer than the existing route. Non-vulnerable users could continue to use the existing steps from the B981 to the east side of the A90 in North Queensferry. However the steps are steep and cyclists and those with impaired mobility are unlikely to be able to use them. These users would be adversely affected by the resulting increased journey length.

There are two National Cycle Routes running through this area, both of which cross Ferrytoll Junction. NCR 1 runs north/south and connects to the Forth Road Bridge, and NCR 76 runs east/west. Both NCRs would be subject to realignment but would be maintained, most journey times would not be significantly affected. There would be a slight improvement in perceived safety as a result of increased segregation and controlled crossings at Ferrytoll Junction.

Pedestrian access to the Forth Road Bridge footpath from North Queensferry would be maintained, and residents wishing to access services and facilities in South Queensferry would benefit from improved conditions for pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge (see below). Access between the Forth Road Bridge and Rosyth / Inverkeithing would be maintained and there would be some improvement as a result of provision of controlled crossings and segregated paths at Ferrytoll Junction.

The overall effects on community severance and access to services and facilities to the north of the Forth are slight. Access by car between the three communities would not be significantly affected, and access to wider areas, including the south side of the Forth, would be improved. The main adverse effect would be on those people wishing to walk between North Queensferry and Inverkeithing who are unable to use the steps from the B981 footpath to the A90 footpath. However there would be a slight beneficial effect on perceived safety for the pedestrian and cycle routes across Ferrytoll Junction.

(b) Construction Effects

During the reconstruction of Ferrytoll Junction it is anticipated that there would be a temporary increase in congestion resulting from construction traffic, and temporary diversions of key pedestrian and cycle routes including NCR 1, NCR 76 and the B981. Whilst these effects cannot be quantified at this stage it is likely that there would be a significant increase in severance between the communities of Rosyth, Inverkeithing and North Queensferry, since most routes between these communities cross the junction. Residents in North Queensferry are likely to be most affected since this community depends on services in other areas. There may also be impacts on journey times to Dunfermline and cross-Forth journey times, which would also impact on access to services in the wider area.

9.4.2 South of the Forth

(a) Operational Effects

The proposed scheme would not result in the direct loss of services and facilities. Generally, the extent of community severance to the south of the Firth of Forth is greater than to the north due to the extent of the proposed off-line carriageway.

The new carriageway alignment would sever the fields at Echline and the associated network of informal paths that link South Queensferry and Linn Mill, connecting with other paths towards Newton. The alignment would create a barrier between houses located at Linn Mill to the west and South Queensferry to the east, where the majority of community facilities are located. Pedestrians and cyclists would need to divert their route via Society Road, to the north, adding significantly to journey length.

Other pedestrian and cycle routes would be maintained by new crossings and diversions. However, there would be some journey time increases and the amenity value of routes would be adversely affected. The presence of the new road alignment is likely to make residents in rural areas to the west of South Queensferry feel more isolated from the town.

The reduction in traffic on the A90 through South Queensferry would not serve to significantly reduce existing community severance, since no additional crossing points are proposed.

To the west of the proposed Queensferry Junction the A904 through Newton is predicted to experience an increase in traffic flow in 2017 as a result of the proposed scheme. Traffic increases through villages can adversely affect the users of footpaths in terms of ease of road crossing and perceived safety. In addition, several minor roads across the study area are predicted to experience slight increases in traffic flow. However, severance is not assessed on these routes due to the existing traffic flows being too low to be considered as resulting in severance, and therefore cannot be considered to be providing relief from existing severance.

The increased flow of traffic across the Firth of Forth has the potential to increase traffic flows and associated congestion in areas beyond the boundaries of the ITS system, such as the west side of Edinburgh. This would have the potential to increase local vehicle journey times and severance in the affected areas.

(b) Construction Effects

The details of construction are not known at this stage but it is expected that construction would have an adverse effect on severance and access to services and facilities on the south side of the Firth of Forth. Specific effects are likely to include reduced pedestrian access across the fields at Echline as a result of temporary land take for the proposed construction compound and severance to the west and south of South Queensferry caused by the construction of the proposed new carriageway alignment. Disturbance to pedestrian and cyclists using Society Road, which is anticipated to be used as access and egress for construction plant during construction. These effects would occur in conjunction with the ongoing severance effects caused by cross-Forth traffic on the A90 within South Queensferry, resulting in a considerable net increase in severance during construction on the south side of the Firth of Forth. It should be noted that non-motorised user routes would be maintained during construction, although diversions would be required.

9.4.3 Across the Forth

(a) Operational Effects

The proposed ITS would improve car journey times across the Firth of Forth. This would improve the accessibility of facilities within Edinburgh for people on the north side.

The Main Crossing would not provide pedestrian and cyclist access. However, the Forth Road Bridge would become a designated public transport corridor and would continue to form part of the National Cycle Network. The bridge would maintain access for pedestrians and cyclists across the Firth of Forth and the reduction in traffic on the bridge would bring significant amenity benefits.

(b) Construction

The Forth Road Bridge would remain operational throughout the construction period and no interruption of access across the Firth of Forth for vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists is anticipated. However cross-Forth journeys would be affected by diversions and congestion to the north and south, as described above.

9.4.4 Public Transport

(a) Operational Effects

The proposed scheme would not introduce any severance of public transport links between communities, as bus services travelling between Fife and the Lothians would be maintained on the Forth Road Bridge. By providing a designated bus route on the Forth Road Bridge and new priority routes to the north and south, the proposed scheme is expected to improve the speed and reliability of public transport journeys.

(b) Construction Effects

During construction, bus services on both sides of the Firth of Forth are likely to be affected by temporary stop relocations and increased journey times due to temporary diversions and congestion.

9.4.5 Vulnerable Groups

Due to the rural nature of the communities within the study area, it is likely that the majority of people access services or facilities by car. These people would benefit from improved car journey times across the Firth of Forth, and would be unaffected by the changes in severance on local footpaths. However, those without access to a car are more likely to walk and would experience disproportionate effects of changes in access to services, particularly during construction. Certain other vulnerable groups such as the elderly and disabled may also fall into this category.

A new DDA compliant ramp linking paths on the B981 and the A90 (west side) will improve disabled access to the bridge from the north side of the Firth of Forth.

9.5 Mitigation Measures

9.5.1 Operational Phase

The ES has proposed a number of mitigation measures, which have been incorporated into the design and taken into account in this assessment. These include:

  • ensuring that the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act are incorporated into the scheme where possible, to reduce barriers to access for disabled people;
  • segregation of routes and provision of controlled crossing points for pedestrians and cyclists to improve perceived safety; and
  • creation of new pathways linking existing community facilities to decrease severance.

9.5.2 Construction Phase

The CoCP includes a section on Public Access and Traffic Management. This requires the Contractor to produce a Traffic Management Plan which would include (but not be limited to) details of the following:

  • procedures for the temporary of permanent closure or diversion of roads or accesses;
  • pedestrian and cycle routes;
  • measures to reduce construction traffic impacts associated with over-parking on residential streets; and
  • permitted access routes for construction traffic.

9.6 Assessment of Health Impacts

The effects on health have been assessed according to the criteria set out in the Merseyside Guidelines (see Section 4.6).

Based on the available evidence (see Section 9.2), the degree of certainty for links between access and health effects is considered to be speculative. The effects on health resulting from access to services and facilities are broad and diverse, 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. The assessment of access to services is assessed in a qualitative way.

The proposed scheme would provide a reliable crossing of the Firth of Forth, improving journey times for both private vehicles and public transport. The proposed scheme therefore supports improved access to services in South Queensferry and Edinburgh for communities north of the Firth of Forth. However, severance effects have been identified for some parts of the study area.

The main severance effects during the operation of the scheme would result from the new carriageway alignment to the west of South Queensferry. The presence of the road would increase cyclist and pedestrian journey times into South Queensferry from the community at Linn Mill. There would also be increased journey times for disabled people using the footpath between North Queensferry and Inverkeithing.

During construction, severance would be more significant, particularly around Ferrytoll Junction and communities to the west of South Queensferry.

The proposed scheme would therefore result in both positive and negative changes in access which can influence overall wellbeing. The associated health effects are considered to be minor, with the exception of severance impacts for communities to the west of South Queensferry during construction where effects are considered to be minor to moderate.

There is also potential for changes in traffic outside the study area to have severance effects, however, the magnitude of such changes are unknown.