Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by The Landscape Institute (IT 122)


  I would be grateful if you would place the following comments, observations and proposals on the Integrated Transport White Paper from the Landscape Institute before the committee.

  The Landscape Institute is the professional body for all aspects of landscape architecture, incorporating landscape design, management, education science, planning and research. It was founded in 1929 and granted Royal Charter in 1997. The Landscape Institute welcomes the Government's awareness of the extensive and wide ranging issue associated with integrated transport. In particular, the recognition of the differences between urban and rural needs and the differing practicalities and economics of public transport in urban and rural situations are welcomed.

  In their work the Institute's members are involved in sustaining and enhancing the quality of life. The institute is therefore, concerned that an integrated transport strategy, and subsequent policies and controls, should reduce the environmental impacts of transportation, including such topics as air, water, noise pollution, disturbance to human communities, and the environment impacts of managing the various modes and systems of transportation.

  Rather than consider all aspects of the White Paper I will focus on areas, which are of special concern to the profession or where the profession can make a realistic contribution.

  A fundamental issue of concern to the profession is that any new, or renovated, transportation facilities or routes should be fully in sympathy with their local environments. That means a focus on integration with the landscape, from the concept initiation and type of project, is crucial. It also involves a full landscape description and appraisal as a precursor to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. We are also aware that incremental change can, ultimately be quite substantial and dramatic. The Profession would, therefore recommend that "improvements" to existing systems (such as straightening or widening roads) should be subject to an environmental impact assessment so that change can be anticipated and any amelioration can be incorporated from the start.

  Whilst the efficiency of the charging systems discussed in the White Paper is a matter for debate, the profession does have a body of experience related to pedestrians and traffic calming schemes, particularly in relation to designs and materials that reflect and integrate with, the local environments of towns and villages. The Institute proposes that the disruption caused by the creation of new routes be minimised through focusing on more effective use of existing facilities and systems. For example, rather than building (or widening) roads for increased freight transport such freight should be transferred to rail or sea systems.

  The integration of personal and public transport appears to be one of the weaker aspects of the White Paper. In addition to issues of reliability, frequency, directness and affordability, public transport needs to be accessible. Generally speaking that accessibility only occurs in the major conurbations. For a significant proportion of the populations in towns, villages and the countryside, it is necessary to use personal transport (usually cars) to reach bus, rail, and air routes. To encourage greater use of such public transport will, therefore involve considerable increased provision of affordable car parking facilities at bus and rail stations and airports. Such necessary facilities need sensitive detailed location, design, and management.

  The profession would be happy to contribute its experience to helping resolve these matters.

  There are clearly close links and common issues between this White Paper and the Opportunities for Change debate being conducted in the drive for Sustainable Development. There are many landscape policy matters and items of good landscape practice in the whole sphere of Sustainable Development and Integrated Transport. The Landscape Institute therefore repeats its recommendation, and its offer of assistance, made in its response to Opportunities for Change, that the Government should promote a suite of Landscape Policy Guidance notes. Such advice could cover rural and urban situations, historic and contemporary landscapes, integration and amelioration, design and management, landscape characters and scale, and regional and local matters.

  In May 1998 the Institute Technical Committee prepared an Institute position paper on roads and transport and this is attached.

  Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Committee's examination of the issues raised by the Integrated Transport White Paper. Please do not hesitate to contact myself or the Director General if anything is unclear or the Committee requires further detail or elaboration.

Richard F Burden

The President

1 October 1998

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