Appendix B: Environmental Analysis
This section provides details of the 1-year after evaluation undertaken for the Environment criterion in the Scottish Trunk Road infrastructure Project Evaluations (STRIPE). The 1-year after evaluation includes a ‘high level’ assessment of the environmental impacts of the project (where possible), a review of whether the environmental mitigation measures proposed in the project’s Environmental Statement (ES) have been implemented (commenting on their success where possible) and a check of whether specific requirements of the appraisal process have been met.
The environmental mitigation measures originally proposed for the A75 Cairntop to Barlae were obtained from the project’s ES. A review of the environmental mitigation measures was carried out in January 2013, as well as a review of the as-built scheme plans. Following this review a site visit was undertaken to establish whether or not the proposed mitigation measures as set out in the Schedule of Committed Mitigation within the ES had been implemented.
Noise and Vibration
The ES did not set out any measures for mitigating noise and vibration impacts during the operation of the scheme. Whilst undertaking the site visit no issues relating to noise and vibration were identified.
Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973
Impact of Project on Noise and Vibration
The comparison between pre and post project opening traffic within the study area can be considered a proxy for the impact that the project is likely to have on noise and vibration. However, given that the proposed scheme is not considered to generate any additional traffic, and the ES did not identify the requirement for incorporating any mitigation measures to reduce the impact of noise and vibration, it is not considered that any significant impacts are occurring and a comparison between pre and post project opening data has not been undertaken.
Global and Local Air Quality
Assessments undertaken as part of the ES determined that no mitigation measures were necessary for the operation of the scheme. No issues relating to either global or local air quality were identified during the environmental mitigation measures review.
Impact of Project on Global and Local Air Quality
The comparison between pre and post project opening traffic within the study area can be considered a proxy for the impact that the project is likely to have on both global and local air quality.
However, given that the proposed scheme is not considered to generate any additional traffic, and the ES did not identify the requirement for incorporating any mitigation measures to reduce the impact upon global or local air quality, it is not considered that any significant impacts are occurring and a comparison between pre and post project opening data has not been undertaken.
Water Quality, Drainage and Flood Defence
The ES identified several mitigation measures including the provision of SUDS and culverts, all of which have been implemented throughout the scheme and fit within the wider landscape effectively.
Where the Tor Bar Burn is culverted under the A75 the site visit identified an issue with drainage on site. The following plate shows that flooding is occurring adjacent to the Tol Bar Burn on the island between the two carriageways.
It is noted, however, that the ground is naturally heavily saturated and maintaining this natural saturation level is important to the SSSI located adjacent to the site.
The Tol Bar Burn culverts themselves were flowing freely with no apparent drainage issues as can be seen below.
Whilst there would appear to be no issues associated with the culverting of the Tol Bar Burn, there would appear to be issues with regards the drainage of the scheme in this area which is resulting in potential impacts to protected species along the route.
It is therefore recommended that the cause of the flooding be investigated. Should the cause of the flooding be down to the design / construction of the scheme then this should be reported back to the designers and contractors for the works. If the cause of the flooding is down to a maintenance issue such as a blocked culvert then this should be fed back to the operating company for the route to ensure that these culverts are checked regularly for blockages if required.
This issue has been brought to the attention of the Contractor for the scheme by the Engineer.
The ES did not identify any mitigation measures required for the geology of the study area and there were no comments or issues regarding geology that came out of the environmental mitigation measures review.
Biodiversity and Habitats
The ecological mitigation committed in the ES has been largely implemented on site however, the site visit did identify some significant issues which need to be highlighted and addressed.
The ES identified specific measures for the protection of mammals including mammal fencing, a dry culvert and the provision of a mammal ledge in the existing Tol Bar Burn Culvert.
The existing Tol Bar Burn Culvert has not had a mammal ledge added to it, however, a separate dry culvert has been provided, along with mammal fencing to guide mammals in to the culvert and across the grass island between the carriageways. The dry culvert did not appear to be blocked, and there were no definite signs of it having been recently used. This change in the design from the mitigation specified in the ES is not deemed to result in any significant adverse impacts and does not detract from the overall effectiveness of the scheme.
Mammal fencing is provided along the length of the scheme to both the north and south of the carriageway. The fencing was observed to be in very good condition, with the exception of one area on the westbound carriageway at approximately Chainage 700.000 (as per the as-built scheme plans). The fencing in this area was observed to have been broken, vehicle tracks through the verge suggests that this is the result of an accident in the area and the fencing is yet to be repaired.
It is recommended that this area of fencing be reported to the operating company for the area to ensure that it’s repair is undertaken as soon as possible. Whilst this hole in the fencing remains there is the possibility that protected species could gain access to the A75 carriageway resulting in their possible death or injury.
It was further observed during the site visit that many of the gates used for access to agricultural land along the route had been fitted with mammal fencing. Whilst this can be regarded as an example of good practice in order to ensure that there are no gaps in the fencing, it was observed during the site visit that many of the gates had been left open with vehicles freely passing along the access roads and gates not being closed behind them.
It is recommended that during the construction and operation of the scheme greater consultation with landowners should be undertaken by the designers and the subsequent operating companies to educate the landowners on the protected species which the fencing is designed to protect in order to minimise the potential for injury or death occurring.
The site visit also identified that there were significant issues relating to the provision of mammal mitigation along the Tol Bar Burn. A separate mammal underpass has been provided under the western carriageway and this was observed as being unblocked. There is then a “run” of mammal fencing across the central island between the carriageways and then a further culvert under the eastbound carriageway. The site visit identified significant issues with flooding of this area with the enclosed “run” being flooded, and the culvert under the eastbound carriageway being submerged and impassable.
There is potentially a significant issue with drainage in this area which requires to be addressed in order to allow safe passage of mammals through this area. It is therefore recommended that the cause of the flooding be investigated and mitigative works are undertaken to ensure that safe passage for mammals in the area is maintained.
This issue has been brought to the attention of the Contractor for the scheme by the Engineer.
The ES noted that mitigation measures specified in the otter licence should be implemented on site. Consultation with the contractors for the works prior to the site visit identified that there was no requirement for an otter licence, and therefore the mitigation as specified in the ES was implemented.
The landscape and visual mitigation recommended within the ES has all been implemented and the project provides a good example of how a new road scheme can fit into the wider landscape setting. The use of appropriate species planting, closely matches the existing planting in the area, and the earthwork slopes have been appropriately graded to reflect the wider area. Planting throughout the project is establishing well, and this includes the Scots Pine which has been planted on the central island of the scheme which is, in some areas, suffering for waterlogging.
There are several stone walls which were required to be taken down to facilitate the construction of the scheme, these have all been re-built as per the recommendations of the ES, and they further integrate the scheme in to the wider landscape setting.
The ES identified that earthworks should be appropriately shaped and planted to improve views from the road. The earthworks have been effectively profiled (including the peat bund areas within the central island between the two carriageways) to help the road fit into the local undulating landform whilst permitting road users views across the surrounding landscape.
The planting throughout the length of the scheme (including the selected mixes) will integrate the scheme well in to the surrounding landscape and will not result in any significant detrimental views occurring during the operation of the scheme.
Agriculture and Soils
The ES identified that existing access arrangements should be maintained, and that agricultural land used should be re-instated where possible along the length of the scheme.
The site visit identified that multiple accesses were provided along the north and south of the scheme to facilitate access into the agricultural fields, it was also apparent that where possible agricultural land had been reinstated.
The provision of multiple accesses for the surrounding agricultural land should be seen as a success on this scheme as it has enabled the surrounding farmland to maintain its operations in the long-term.
No mitigation measures were identified in the ES for the operation of the project, all mitigation measures relating to cultural heritage and archaeology were only required during the pre-construction and construction phases of the works.
A dedicated pedestrian / cycleway has been provided along the length of the scheme. A crossing point has also been provided to enable pedestrians / cyclists to cross the new road layout via the grassed island area.
The pedestrian / cycleway has been maintained to a high standard and is in good condition. The crossing points along the pathway are well signposted on both the pathway, and on the A75 to warn drivers of the potential crossing of pedestrians / cyclists.
The implementation of the pedestrian / cycleway results in a beneficial impact from the scheme, however, it was not seen to be in use during the site visit.
The ES identified that agricultural land should be re-instated following the conclusion of the construction works. The site visit did not identify any specific areas which required reinstatement and therefore it is considered that there are no long-term impacts to land use occurring as a result of the implementation of the scheme.
The ES did not identify any specific mitigation measures required for vehicle travellers, however, landscape and visual mitigation measures have been incorporated into the scheme to integrate the scheme in to the landscape which has resulted in the views from the A75 being positively impacted.
The scheme has also not resulted in any significant changes in driver stress levels with vehicle flows on this section of the A75 unlikely to have changed significantly as a result of the implementation of the scheme.
Much of the mitigation which was included within the ES has been implemented on site; however, the site inspection did highlight some issues related to the drainage of the area, which has associated impacts upon the movement of protected species. This issue is creating a barrier to the movement of mammals across the road corridor.
The A75 Cairntop to Barlae scheme fits well within the existing landscape and the effective grading the central peat bunding and the wider embankment slopes integrates the scheme into the topography of the area. The planting of native species to supplement the existing woodland planting in the area further strengthens the integration of the scheme in to the wider landscape setting.