10 Physical Activity and Green Space

10 Physical Activity and Green Space

10.1 Introduction

This section considers the effects of the proposed scheme on access to green space and levels of physical activity. The issues considered include:

  • changes in access to or quality of walking and cycling routes;
  • changes in access to or quality of green space; and
  • changes in access to or quality of sports facilities.

Changes in trip lengths for pedestrians and cyclists are discussed in Section 9 above.

10.1.1 Study Area

Effects on physical activity and green space would largely take place within the immediate vicinity of the proposed scheme as a result of land take and amenity impacts. The area can be broken up as follows:

  • around the Ferrytoll Junction and the northern approach viaduct;
  • around the southern approach viaduct, Queensferry Junction and the southern road alignment; and
  • around the M9 Junction 1A.

10.2 Evidence of Health Effects

10.2.1 Green Space

The Sustainable Development Commission (2008) in its report ‘Health, Place and Nature’ concluded that exposure to natural spaces, from parks and open countryside to gardens and other green space, is good for health. Green spaces can improve physical health, physical comfort and psychiatric wellbeing, as well as providing opportunities to improve people’s quality of life and social interactions. Benefits cited in other studies include alleviation of symptoms of anxiety and depression, and restored capacity for concentration and attention (Douglas, 2005).

10.2.2 Physical Activity

Strong evidence exists of links between exercise and health. Scotland’s Physical Activity Taskforce has identified that the health of two-thirds of the Scottish adult population is now at risk from physical inactivity, making it the most common risk factor for coronary heart disease in Scotland today (Physical Activity Task Force, 2003). The Scottish Executive has identified physical activity levels as one of five key risk areas for improving health in Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2002).

Physical health effects associated with increased exercise include a decrease in the incidence of heart attacks, coronary heart disease, diabetes and strokes, increasing general cardiovascular fitness and mobility (reducing risk of falls, particularly for older people), reduced incidence of obesity, improved musculoskeletal health, prevention of hypertension and osteoporosis, decreasing risk of cancer (particularly colon, breast and lung cancers) and obesity (Department of Health, 2004).

Exercise can improve mental health, aiding conditions such as clinical depression, sleep problems and low self-esteem, and can contribute towards improved physical perception, and general psychological well-being as well as acting as a buffer to stress (Sport England, 2007). Physical activity can also provide an important opportunity for social interaction, which in itself can add to mental well-being (Department of Health, 2004).

A review by Health Scotland found evidence that levels of physical activity and physically active transport can be directly related to characteristics of the local environment such as street connectivity, amenities within walking distance, perceived safety and aesthetics of the neighbourhood. However these factors alone are unlikely to lead to a substantial change in levels of physical activity, which is more strongly linked to individual socio-demographic factors.

10.2.3 Health Inequalities

The poorest people often experience the poorest quality outdoor environments and suffer disproportionately from a lack of access to green space. Recent Dutch research has suggested that there is a positive association between the percentage of green space in a person’s residential area and their perceived general health and that this relationship is strongest for lower socio-economic groups (Maas et al., 2006).

NHS Health Scotland’s (2007) commentary on NICE public health guidance states that there is a ‘dearth of evidence on how environmental interventions affect the physical activity levels of different groups, so it is not clear what impact [this] would have on health inequalities.’

10.3 Existing Conditions

10.3.1 Physical activity

No data is available on levels of physical activity within the study area. However, general levels of physical activity in the Scottish population are falling and around two thirds of the Scottish population do not participate in enough physical activity to meet current recommendations (Edinburgh South-East Development Department, 2003).

The study area contains numerous features and facilities that offer opportunities for exercise, as described below.

10.3.2 Green Space, Cycleways and Footpaths

(a) Around Ferrytoll Junction and the Northern Approach Viaduct

There are no parks or public open spaces close to the proposed works, with the nearest park located in Rosyth about 1km from the scheme.

Ferrytoll Junction lies in the coastal hills to the north of the Firth of Forth. Although the amenity value in parts of this area is compromised by industrial areas at Rosyth and South Inverkeithing Bay, the remaining open spaces at Castlandhill and Castlandhill Wood, with views across the Firth of Forth, are likely to be highly valued by local people. Hope Street Cemetery, located immediately east of the A90, is also considered to be an area of community land.

South west of the junction where the proposed B981 alignment is located is an area of coastal flats. The site of the proposed viaduct comprises a wooded hillside rising from the waterfront. East of the Forth Road Bridge approach road is the Ferry Hills area comprising rolling hills with high landscape value and views across the Forth.

There are numerous footpaths providing access to the areas of open spaces described above. The Fife coastal path, and the path through Ferry Hills are used for recreational walking. Two footpaths run across Castlandhill linking Rosyth and Inverkeithing, and other local routes are used for journeys on foot between North Queensferry, Inverkeithing and Rosyth.

Two National Cycle Routes (NCR 1 and NCR 76) run through the area. Both routes cross Ferrytoll Junction, with NCR 1 running across the Forth Road Bridge. A local cycle route to Rosyth connects with NCR 1 south of the junction and another local route between Rosyth and Inverkeithing crosses the M90 just north of the junction.

Around the Southern Approach Viaduct, Queensferry Junction and the Southern Alignment

This area, to the west and south west of South Queensferry, comprises rolling farmland with scattered areas of woodland, crossed by a network of lanes and footpaths. This is an attractive area, parts of which have designations to protect their high landscape quality.

The waterfront to the west of the landing point is accessible via the coastal road, which is designated as a core path to be used by pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists. This area is also designated as having local landscape importance.

The area for the proposed road alignment south of the viaduct is known as Echline Fields. This land is well used by the local community as a walking route between South Queensferry and the houses at Linn Mill.

Within South Queensferry there are numerous public parks and an area of community woodland, and to the south of South Queensferry beyond the wooded area around Dundas Castle is Dundas Golf Course.

Footpaths in this area are mainly concentrated around the west side of South Queensferry. These comprise a mixture of public rights of way, core paths and informal paths across Echline Fields. The paths are used as access routes between South Queensferry and residential and employment areas to the west, and for recreation and dog walking. Across the wider area there are numerous cross-country footpaths used for recreational walking.

NCR1 runs across the Forth Road Bridge and east out of Queensferry, and NCR 76 follows the waterfront, crossing the point of the proposed bridge landing.

Around M9 Junction 1a

The area north of Junction 1a consists of rolling countryside crossed by paths and scattered with wooded areas.

Directly south of the junction is a landscape character area referred to as an area of historic wooded landscape. A footpath passes within 200m of the junction in this area but is shielded by a band of woodland.

To the east, between the junction and the village of Kirkliston, there is a public park and an area of community woodland which contains a network of paths around Pikes Pool.

A local path used by pedestrians and cyclists runs along the B8090 to the north of the junction.

10.3.3 Sport and Leisure Facilities

Around Ferrytoll Junction and the Northern Approach Viaduct

There are no formal sport or leisure facilities within this area.

Around the Southern Approach Viaduct, Queensferry Junction and the Southern Alignment

Close to the southern bridge landing is Port Edgar Marina, a major watersports complex and marina which is home to Port Edgar Yacht Club.

Towards the east side of South Queensferry is Queensferry High Recreation Centre, with a gym, pool, indoor and outdoor sports pitches.

Westmuir Riding Centre lies approximately 1.5km south west of the alignment, and Dundas Golf Course lies to the south of South Queensferry near Dundas Castle.

Around M9 Junction 1a

Kirkliston Leisure Centre, with sports halls, gym and outdoor pitches, lies adjacent to the A8000, directly north of Junction 1a.

10.4 Operational Impact Assessment

10.4.1 Ferrytoll Junction and the Northern Approach Viaduct

Castlandhill Road would be realigned and a new cutting created, resulting in the partial loss of fields and woodland from Castlandhill. This would marginally reduce the area of open space, but would not directly affect the footpaths, and the cutting would alleviate visual and noise effects from the road.

The B981 realignment and the proposed viaduct would directly affect the coastal flats and St Margaret’s Marsh area, which are accessible to walkers. The proposed scheme would also add new built elements to views of the existing junction, road alignment and bridge from Ferry Hills.

As described in Chapter 17 of the ES (Jacobs Arup, 2009a), several footpaths and cycleways would be directly affected by the new road alignment and works to Ferrytoll junction and its slip roads. The design of the proposed scheme has taken into account the need to maintain access along these routes through the use of diversions and provision of new crossings where appropriate. The design has eliminated significant increases in journey distance, with the exception of certain trips between North Queensferry and Inverkeithing as described in Section 9.4.1.

Cycleways around Ferrytoll junction would be improved through a reduction in traffic on the approach to the Forth Road Crossing and junction design to improve safety, as described in the Stage 3 Scheme Assessment Report. Walkers on the paths around the west side of North Queensferry would also benefit from reduced traffic.

It is considered that the operation of the proposed scheme would not restrict access to green space in this area, and would not significantly encourage or discourage the use of footpaths and cycleways.

10.4.2 Around the Southern Approach Viaduct, Queensferry Junction and the Southern Alignment

Distant views of the Main Crossing from the waterfront are not expected to adversely affect pedestrians and recreational users on Society Road but views and noise levels would reduce the amenity value of the waterfront in the immediate area of the approach viaduct.

Port Edgar Marina is within 300m of the proposed scheme, and would be located between the Forth Road Bridge and the Main Crossing. Although highly visible, the presence of the Main Crossing would not restrict the use of the marina.

The new road alignment would result in land take at Echline Fields and would sever the informal footpaths that cross this area. This would result in the loss of well used walking routes to the west of South Queensferry. However it should be noted that this area is subject to a planning application that could, in the absence of the proposed scheme, result in the development of this area.

The amenity value of the countryside to the west and south of South Queensferry would be reduced by the noise and visual effects of the new road alignment. Receptors within this area include a number of public footpaths. It is considered that the proposed route alignment would adversely affect the quality and availability of green space for residents of South Queensferry and the surrounding countryside, and could dissuade people from using certain public footpaths. Routes used by the Westmuir Riding Centre are also likely to be affected, although the centre itself would not be affected.

The proposed carriageway alignment would be visible from parts of Dundas Golf Course would be indirectly affected, but it is considered that the presence of the road at a distance of 500m would not discourage the use of this facility.

Public parks and community woodland within South Queensferry would be largely unaffected, and there may be beneficial effects in terms of reduced traffic noise at Echline Community Woodland.

The reduction in traffic on the Forth Road Bridge and the southern approach roads would encourage the use of the bridge by walkers and cyclists. This could result in an increase in the number of longer distance trips made by cyclists and walkers on NCR 1 and NCR 76.

10.4.3 Around M9 Junction 1a

The proposed west facing slip roads at Junction 1a would not directly affect the park and community woodland to the east of the junction, Kirkliston Leisure Centre to the north, or the footpath to the south.

It is considered that the operation of the proposed scheme would have no effect on the availability of green space or opportunities for exercise in this area.

10.4.4 Wider Effects

The proposed scheme would remove traffic from the Forth Road Bridge and maintain this crossing as a public transport corridor with a segregated cycleway and pedestrian route. Segregated cycle lanes would be provided at Ferrytoll Junction. The proposed scheme would improve amenity and safety for pedestrians and cyclists, both on the Forth Road Bridge and on the northern and southern approach routes, as a result of reduced traffic volumes and improved road layouts. There is therefore the potential to increase active travel across the Firth of Forth, both for recreation and commuting.

The use of buses can increase walking, when compared with car use, as users walk to bus stops. An indirect impact of this is the reduction in road traffic, which in turn improves conditions for walkers and cyclists. By providing a dedicated public transport crossing and bus priority routes, the scheme has the potential to facilitate improvements in bus transport provision. Park and ride sites, although not part of the scheme, could also be facilitated by the improved crossing.

10.5 Construction Impacts

The impacts on accessibility and quality of open space, footpaths and cycleways would be greater during construction of the proposed scheme than during operation. Although there is limited specific information on the construction process at this stage, the following impacts area expected:

10.5.1 Ferrytoll Junction and the Northern Approach Viaduct

Works associated with the construction of the new cutting at Castlandhill Roads would reduce the amenity value of the footpaths and fields in this area.

Temporary diversions would be put in place for footpaths around Ferrytoll Junction, potentially resulting in reduced quality and increased journey length. Construction traffic, including HGVs, around the junction and nearby construction compounds could affect amenity and safety, particularly for cyclists.

10.5.2 Around the Southern Approach Viaduct, Queensferry Junction and the Southern Alignment

The amenity effects on the waterfront area during construction of the southern approach viaduct would be significantly greater than during operation of the proposed scheme. It is considered that there is a high potential for construction activities to temporarily discourage the recreational use of Society Road by walkers and cyclists.

Port Edgar Marina would be adversely affected, particularly during easterly winds when the sailing school uses the waters to the west of the marina where construction of the Main Crossing would take place. Although events such as regattas would potentially be disrupted, a programme of effective community engagement process would be implemented. Operations within the Firth of Forth would also be managed through the implementation of a Marine Traffic Management Plan.

Additional temporary land take at Echline fields for a construction compound, as well as the proposed alignment, would reduce access to green space for properties on the west side of South Queensferry. Temporary footpath diversions to the west and south of South Queensferry would reduce the amenity value of paths and potentially increase journey length.

The adverse effects of construction would not be counteracted by improved conditions for cyclists in South Queensferry due to the continued use of the A90 and Forth Road Bridge by traffic crossing the Firth of Forth.

It is considered that the construction process would result in a temporary reduction in access to green space and opportunities for exercise in this area.

10.5.3 Around M9 Junction 1a

During construction there is a potential for increased noise within the park and community woodland to the east of the junction and Kirkliston Leisure Centre to the north, resulting from the widening of the A8000 embankment and M9 cutting, and construction of the west facing slip roads.

10.5.4 Wider Effects

Construction would largely be undertaken off-line, with traffic movements confined within the proposed alignment wherever possible. On-road haulage routes have not been defined at this stage but it is considered that there would be an increase in traffic flows and congestion, including HGVs, as a result of deliveries and temporary closures and diversions. This has the potential to discourage the use of roads and footpaths by pedestrians and cyclists.

10.6 Mitigation Measures

10.6.1 Operational Phase

The ES includes a wide range of mitigation measures aimed at reducing the adverse effects of construction and operation of the proposed scheme on noise, dust and visual intrusion, and minimising land take. In addition, as described in Chapter 17 of the ES and summarised in Section 9 of this report, the scheme design has maintained core paths and public rights of way, minimised increased journey times for pedestrians and cyclists, and improved safety wherever possible. These measures serve to minimise the adverse effects on cycling, walking and the availability of green space, and have been taken into account in the assessment of health effects.

10.6.2 Construction Phase

The CoCP sets out a wide range of measures to minimise adverse effects on public and private areas close to the construction works, and require the Contractor to develop and implement a detailed Environmental Management Plan. Relevant measures are included in the Dust and Air Pollution, Public Access and Traffic Management, Noise and Vibration, Landscape and Visual and Agricultural Resources sections.

10.7 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).

The effects of physical activity on health are well established, but in order for these effects to take place, action is required on the part of individuals, which cannot be accurately predicted. Therefore, based on the available evidence (see Section 10.2), the degree of certainty of links between green space, physical activity and health effects is considered to be speculative. The assessment of health effects is undertaken in a qualitative way.

There would be both positive and negative effects on pedestrian and cycle routes resulting from the proposed scheme which may indirectly influence the choices made by the community with regard to active travel. Likewise, the proposed scheme may influence access to green space through the uptake of land, noise and visual effects on nearby green space, and by influencing the accessibility of green space by car in the long term.

The proposed scheme would provide a dedicated public transport crossing on the Forth Road Bridge, resulting in improved perceived safety and amenity for cyclists and pedestrians. The amenity value of public footpaths, community woodland and open space within South Queensferry are also expected to improve as a result of a reduction in traffic flows along the A90 alignment through the town. The health effects of potentially increasing active travel along the NCR1 and local routes and also the use of recreation areas within South Queensferry are considered to be positive and of moderate magnitude.

For pedestrians and cyclists, the slight increase in journey times and reduced amenity for routes west of South Queensferry may discourage active travel in this area. The southern approach to the Main Crossing also results in the permanent loss of an informal amenity area at Echline Field. Although there is some land-take at Kirkliston Leisure Centre, the playing fields and amenity of this area would remain unchanged on operation of the proposed scheme. Overall, the associated health effects of the changes in journey times and amenity are considered to be negative and of minor magnitude.

The construction and operation of the proposed scheme would result in noise and visual impacts which would affect rural walking and cycling routes in areas to the west and southwest of South Queensferry. This could potentially discourage the recreational use of these routes, with minor negative effects on health and wellbeing.

During construction, noise and dust may temporarily discourage the recreational use of open space and footpaths in areas such as Castlandhill, the waterfront at Port Edgar and Kirkliston Leisure Centre. There would be reduced access to informal amenity areas at Echline Fields as a result of the construction compound. Temporary diversions of footpaths and cycleways would also increase the length of some journeys during construction. Overall, the associated health effects during construction are considered to be negative and minor.