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



The Role of Roads—The Landscape View

  The Landscape Institute Technical Committee belie7ves we cannot build our way out of the current traffic congestion. Fundamental change is required towards a more diverse and flexible system leading to an integrated transport system offering a choice between linked modes of transport and reducing the need for travel.

  The management and integration of both major trunk roads and motorways and the local road network is of equal importance and must be combined in any new strategy.

  There should be both a national strategic plan linked to a framework of local transportation plans. As an essential first step the Government should be establishing a single national transport agency through the DETR.

  Whilst encouraging the adoption of an integrated transport policy, we should concentrate on the improvement of the existing road network rather than new and greenfield development. The emphasis should be on capacity increase with minimum land take solutions.

  The task ahead to rationalise and resolve the transportation problems faced by this country is daunting. Transportation directly influences the physical structure of society and implies radical changes to the way we live. Landscape Architecture is an important design tool in ensuring the balance between conflicting environmental and economic pressures.

  Implementation of PPG 13 will greatly assist in the comprehensive comparison of alternative transport modes. It should also be utilised in the preservation and allocation of land uses which will enable defunct transport modes to be reinvigorated and enable goods to be transferred from one mode to another.

  Traffic management schemes can be closely aligned with urban and town centre environmental improvements. Landscape design can make a significant contribution to road safety and driver behaviour. It can also establish a sense of identity, making urban space more attractive to individual and community use. The "Landscape strategy for London's trunk road network" is a constructive first step towards influencing the urban/road environment.7

  There has been significant improvement in recent years in the level of environmental mitigation achieved on conventional road building contracts. The Committee is convinced, however, that the most important aspect of mitigation is correct route selection at an early stage of scheme development. Early landscape/environmental appraisal will be even more important with an integrated transport objective where alternative and interdependent transport modes are compared.

  The Institute has commented in the past about the shortcomings of relaying on cost benefit analysis, particularly with reference to environmental assessment. It is concerned that the Government wishes to continue to use cost benefit analysis to play a part in deciding priorities. As such methods undermine the significance of environmental impact, the Institute would like to see a more meaningful methodology adopted to avoid the numerical assessment of landscape impact.

  Throughout the whole network there should be local programmes regularly to audit and improve the environmental mitigation of existing and upgraded roads and enhance the design and management of the roadside "soft estate".

  The Technical Committee recommends establishing a commission to develop an environmental methodology CAF (Comparative Assessment Framework) which compares the environmental impacts of a series of combined transport alternatives.

  Much of the content of this Position Paper was discussed at an Integrated Transport Forum hosted by the Technical Committee on 4 March 1998 in London. The Forum was attended by key representatives from DETR, The Scottish Office, the Welsh Office and the Highways Agency as well as landscape architects with a specialist interest in transport issues.

The Landscape Institute Technical Committee

11 May 1998

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