Forth Replacement Crossing Environmental Statement Non Technical Summary
2. Impacts of the proposals
The main settlements to the north of the Firth of Forth include Dunfermline, Rosyth, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay and North Queensferry. Settlements to the south of the Firth of Forth include South Queensferry, Dalmeny, Winchburgh and Kirkliston, as well as smaller communities such as Newton and a number of individual properties and farmsteads.
The careful design of the proposed scheme has ensured that no property demolitions will be required. However, the scheme will require part of the garden of Inchgarvie House for the main crossing abutment at the southern bridgehead (the structure connecting the bridge to the land).
The scheme may require a small amount of land from Hope Street Cemetery in Inverkeithing and this has been considered in the environmental assessment. The development of the detailed design may, however, avoid the need for this.
Businesses in the vicinity of the FRC and those in the wider regions of Fife and the Lothians will benefit from improved accessibility as a result of the scheme. Some businesses may experience adverse impacts, for example Deep Sea World as a result of the loss of the overflow car park, and the Queensferry Hotel as a result of disruption during construction and also possible interruptions in views of the hotel for northbound traffic travelling over the main crossing. Some areas used for recreation will also be affected by the proposed scheme, including the western edge of the playing fields at Kirkliston.
There are areas of high quality agricultural land located in the vicinity of the scheme to the north and south of the Firth of Forth. The proposed scheme will result in both the permanent and temporary loss of some of this agricultural land and some disruption to field access. Some land will be offered back to farmers under statutory procedures to be returned to agricultural use where practical. Accesses and boundary walls and fences will be suitably reinstated to reduce overall impacts. Approximately 100 hectares of agricultural land will be lost overall, 74 per cent of which is classed as prime quality agricultural land. Approximately 12.5 hectares of this land may be returned to agriculture after construction.
The land use assessment also considered the potential for future development in the area. Adverse impacts are anticipated for several areas identified for future development to the south of the Firth of Forth. The impacts on all but one of these areas relate to the loss of fewer than 0.5 hectares of land. The exception is for the Springfield Road housing and open space allocations to the west of South Queensferry where construction of the proposed scheme will require more than five hectares.
There are two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designated for their national importance in terms of geology/geomorphology and ecology in the vicinity of the proposed scheme:
- Ferry Hills SSSI will be impacted by the rock cut for the proposed scheme. However, careful mapping of the weaknesses in the rock and the implementation of SNH recommendations regarding rock reprofiling will reduce impacts to a level deemed ‘not significant’. Further refinement of the scheme design may avoid the need for this rock cut.
- St. Margaret’s Marsh SSSI will potentially be impacted by changes to groundwater flow and quality. Careful design and construction of the B981 road embankment and monitoring both prior to, during and after construction, will ensure that impacts are successfully controlled and reduced to ‘not significant’.
The proposed scheme will not affect the geomorphologic interest of the Firth of Forth SSSI.
The proposed scheme will carry risks associated with disturbance of areas of contaminated land, such as former landfills, backfilled quarries and former mining areas, however the risk of contamination is considered to be low. The contractor will use recognised best practice site management techniques to ensure that any risks to the environment are controlled.
The assessment has also considered the impacts on aquifers and private water supplies. No significant adverse impacts have been identified. If required, groundwater flow and quality monitoring equipment will be installed in selected areas to check impacts and inform the need for further mitigation, or alternative supplies will be provided. It is also proposed that the road drainage and treatment systems will be lined in areas close to sensitive aquifers or private water supplies in order to prevent potential contamination.
Environmentally sensitive waterbodies in the vicinity of the proposed scheme include:
- the Firth of Forth
- St. Margaret’s Marsh
- the River Almond
- various minor burns and ponds including Niddry Burn, Swine Burn and Linn Mill Burn.
Swine Burn will be realigned and requires a new crossing structure, in the form of a culvert (a pipe taking the watercourse under the carriageway). Existing culverts on Swine Burn, Niddry Burn and a tributary of Niddry Burn will be extended. These works have the potential to affect the form of the water channel and increase flood risk. Careful design and the provision of appropriate compensatory flood storage will reduce potential impacts to ‘not significant’. The realignment of Swine Burn will also improve the channel form.
A range of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) for the treatment and attenuation of road drainage will be provided to reduce potential impacts on all identified waterbodies to ‘not significant’.
Measures will be implemented to reduce the risk of adverse impacts on the water environment during construction. These will reduce potential construction impacts to ‘not significant’ for all identified waterbodies.
There are a number of sites in the vicinity of the proposed scheme designated for their ecological importance. These include St. Margaret’s Marsh SSSI, Ferry Hills SSSI and a number of locally important sites which are protected through local planning policy such as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), Local Biodiversity Sites and Local Wildlife Sites.
The River Almond and its tributaries are designated under national legislation as ‘salmonid waters’ because they support Atlantic salmon, sea trout and brown trout.
The range of habitats close to the proposed scheme includes arable land and other farmland with smaller areas of wetland, grassland, woodland and freshwater habitats. Some of these are valuable habitats supporting protected species including badger, bats, great crested newt and otter.
Measures to reduce and offset potential adverse impacts on ecology include:
- creating and enhancing habitats through replacement and additional planting
- translocating important species such as maiden pink and bluebell
- providing bat boxes
- providing replacement badger setts and otter holts
- using mammal underpasses under the road and fencing to guide animals to the tunnels
- including mammal ledges in new culverts
- ensuring that culverts and watercourse realignments are constructed in accordance with best practice guidelines.
These measures will help to avoid or reduce impacts on habitats, protected species and designated sites.
No significant residual impacts are predicted for the following protected species during construction or operation:
- terrestrial wintering and breeding birds
- water vole
- red squirrel
- amphibians, reptiles and terrestrial invertebrates.
The assessment predicts negligible adverse effects on bats during construction at Port Edgar Barracks and west of South Queensferry, and low adverse effects on otter due to the disturbance and severance of commuting routes along the River Almond, Swine Burn and Niddry Burn.
During scheme operation, beneficial impacts are predicted at:
- North Queensferry and South Queensferry where the main crossing will facilitate movement of bats across the Firth of Forth
- Swine Burn where river habitat creation and enhancement as part of the watercourse re-alignment will benefit freshwater habitats and species.
Consultation is ongoing to develop an appropriate agreement with SNH for the management of wetland habitat at St Margaret’s Marsh SSSI, which has the potential to achieve beneficial impacts at this site.
Internationally important sites in the vicinity of the proposed scheme include the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area (SPA), Forth Islands SPA and the Firth of Forth Ramsar site. These sites are designated for their international ecological importance for birds. In addition, the River Teith Special Area of Conservation (SAC), located approximately 35km upstream, is designated under the Habitats Directive for its populations of salmon and lamprey. The Imperial Dock Lock, Leith SPA is located approximately 16km downstream and is designated for regularly supporting breeding populations of common tern.
The Firth of Forth includes important areas of intertidal and subtidal habitats, and supports migratory and non-migratory fish, sediment-dwelling organisms, marine mammals (including dolphins, whales and seals) and a range of estuarine birds.
Surveys confirmed the presence of a wide range of bird species including 26 wildfowl species (ducks, divers and geese), 11 species of gulls/petrel and 14 species of wader. Auk, cormorants and herons, swans, raptor (peregrine), kingfisher and raven were also recorded. A number of these species (some 23) are protected by European and national legislation.
Measures which will be implemented during construction to reduce impacts on estuarine habitats and species include:
- using best practice construction techniques and following pollution prevention guidelines
- employing an Ecological Clerk of Works to supervise the works including excavation and piling activities
- sensitive timing of construction activities, e.g. to avoid the tern breeding season
- using acoustic deterrents during key construction periods to discourage sensitive species from entering the area.
The detailed Reports to Inform an Appropriate Assessment which have been prepared for all potentially affected international sites will be used for assessment by the Scottish Ministers. These reports conclude that the integrity of the sites of international importance will not be affected by construction or operation of the proposed scheme.
Construction of the main crossing will require excavation on Beamer Rock, required for the central pier foundation and piling activities. Noise and vibration from construction will cause some disturbance to wildlife (including fish, estuarine birds and marine mammals), however the impacts will be short term and carefully controlled. There will be a loss of benthic habitats (habitats on the bottom of the Firth of Forth) but it is anticipated that fauna and flora will rapidly recolonise and populations of fish and estuarine birds are expected to return to the area once construction activities cease. The area affected by permanent impacts in the Firth of Forth is small compared to the total area of intertidal habitat within the estuary and it is likely that the main crossing structures will create a small amount of new intertidal hard substrate habitat.
The Firth of Forth is a maritime landscape of intertidal shores, islands and harbours where the prevailing weather and light conditions provide a dramatic setting for the iconic Forth Road Bridge and Forth (rail) Bridge.
To the north, the landscape of Fife’s coastal terrace is dominated by settlements and industry. Infrastructure is also prominent, with roads and railways cutting through the steep wooded cliffs and braes.
South of the Firth of Forth, the historic town of South Queensferry is surrounded by rolling arable farmland and the wooded estates of Dalmeny, Hopetoun and Dundas, which are designated as Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes by Historic Scotland and SNH. There is an Area of Outstanding Landscape Quality around Humbie Reservoir and an Area of Great Landscape Value along the shore of the Firth of Forth between Blackness and South Queensferry, which includes Hopetoun Estate. These are designations awarded by the relevant local planning authority.
The sensitivity of the Firth of Forth and the estates around South Queensferry is high, whilst the developed land in Fife is considered less sensitive.
Aesthetics are a major consideration in the design of the main crossing, which will be the most prominent element of the proposed scheme and will be a new structure in both the local and wider landscapes. The main crossing is designed to complement, rather than detract from the Forth Road Bridge and Forth Bridge. However, it is recognised that opinions will vary on the effect of the new structure upon the familiar setting of the existing bridges, so its presence was assessed as neither beneficial nor adverse but as neutral, with only the significance of change noted in the Environmental Impact Assessment.
The assessment also looked at the potential impact of introducing new roads, traffic and features such as road lighting and gantries into the landscape. Impacts associated with the loss of mature woodland and disruption to the landscape character were also examined.
Measures are proposed to ensure continuity of the landscape, enhance the experience of the road user and promote a ‘sense of place’ (the character and spirit of an area). These measures include integrating the road alignment and earthworks with the surrounding topography, forming new rock cuttings and providing false cuttings to achieve a natural appearance.
Proposals include reinstating stone walls and providing noise barriers, woodland, hedgerow and standard tree planting to reflect the existing landscape character and provide screening.
On the north side of the Firth of Forth, the landing of the main crossing and northern road connections will have significant adverse impacts for the landscape of Ferry Hills and St. Margaret’s Marsh, an area of reclaimed coastal flat west of North Queensferry.
South of the Forth, the landscapes of South Queensferry and the farmland to the west will be adversely affected by the main crossing landing and southern connecting roads. The impacts of the main crossing are considered to be adverse in this location because of the presence of the bridge abutment and approach road structures. The designed wooded landscape of the Dundas Estate will also be adversely affected by significant impacts from the proposed scheme. Elsewhere, impacts upon the surrounding landscape will not be significant.
The open views across the Firth of Forth are dominated by the Forth Road Bridge and Forth Bridge. The bridges are visible from a wide area, including many of the small coastal settlements along the Firth of Forth and distant viewpoints in Edinburgh, Dunfermline and Kincardine and in clear conditions, the Ochil, Lomond, Pentland and Moorfoot Hills.
Views north of the Firth of Forth are generally enclosed by the surrounding steep wooded hillsides of Castlandhill and Ferry Hills and are influenced by the surrounding settlements, industry and infrastructure. South of the Firth of Forth, views are limited by the rolling topography of the open farmland around South Queensferry and screened by the mature woodland of the Dundas Estate.
The assessment of visual impact considered changes in views from buildings and outdoor public areas, which are called ‘receptors’. Visual impacts will typically occur where a receptor is close to the proposed scheme or where open views are possible towards the proposed scheme.
The main crossing will be the most visually prominent element of the proposed scheme and will feature as an additional structure in both local and distant views.
The main crossing has been designed to be an aesthetically pleasing structure, sympathetic to the visual character of the area. The simple, elegant design of the bridge is intended to complement the existing views, including those where the main crossing would be viewed directly in front of or beyond the Forth Road Bridge and Forth Bridge. The measures described in the landscape section above will also help to reduce the visual impacts of the scheme.
The main crossing was assessed (as in the landscape assessment) as having neutral rather than beneficial or adverse impact, because it is acknowledged that opinions will differ as to whether it will complement or detract from the visual character of the area. For the majority of receptors, views towards the main crossing will not be significantly changed. Significant (moderate or greater) neutral impacts are predicted for 217 properties and 23 outdoor receptors.
Adverse visual impacts will be significant for properties located in close proximity to the main crossing, including St. Margaret’s Hope (also known as Admiralty House), St. Margaret’s Hope Gatelodge, Ferry Craig House and Tigh-na-grian north of the Firth of Forth and Inchgarvie House, Clufflat, Clufflat Brae and Linn Mill south of the Firth of Forth.
The transfer of traffic from the Forth Road Bridge to the main crossing will result in beneficial impacts for properties in South Queensferry, where existing views are dominated by the constant heavy flow of traffic on the Forth Road Bridge.
Adverse visual impacts from the northern road connections will be significant for properties at Whinnyhill Crescent, St. Margaret’s Hope Gatelodge and footpaths in the vicinity of Castlandhill, Ferrytoll and St. Margaret’s Marsh.
The southern road connections will have significant adverse impacts on views from South Queensferry, properties at Linn Mill, Inchgarvie House, Springfield Lea, Springfield Place, Springfield Terrace, Echline Drive, Dundas Home Farm, Humbie Farm and footpaths around the Echline fields. Proposed landscape mitigation will help reduce impacts.
Overall, views for the majority of receptors within 5km of the proposed scheme will not be significantly changed by the proposed scheme.
Cultural heritage sites include archaeological remains, historic buildings, gardens and designed landscapes. The sites identified in the vicinity of the proposed scheme range in date from the Mesolithic period (10,000 years ago) to the more recent past. The sites have been assessed for direct impacts (potential damage or severance) and indirect impacts (potential changes to setting due to visual intrusion or impacts from vibration and noise). Significant impacts which have been identified are:
- direct impact on Dundas Castle Designed Landscape, St. Margaret’s Hope Category B Listed Archway and Beamer Rock Beacon
- indirect impacts on the setting of St. Margaret’s Hope, Gatelodge, walled garden and piers (listed as Category B individually and as a group), Port Edgar Barracks (Category B) and Inchgarvie House (Category C(S)) Listed Buildings
- indirect impacts on the setting of Dundas Castle Designed Landscape, St. Margaret’s Hope Relict Country Estate, Inchgarvie House Lodge, and Ferry Craig House (South Queensferry).
Beamer Rock Beacon will be directly affected due to the proposed location of the central tower of the main crossing on Beamer Rock. The beacon is not listed but is of local interest and therefore it is proposed to carefully dismantle, record and store it for possible future relocation and re-erection.
Other mitigation measures that have been agreed include the recording of individual sites through archaeological excavation, historic building recording and archaeological evaluation through the excavation of a series of speculative trenches amounting to up to 10 per cent of the total area.
Other mitigation measures which will be implemented include pre-construction protection measures for historic buildings, such as sealing to prevent dust ingress, and construction vibration monitoring.
Local Air Quality
The existing air quality throughout the area of the scheme meets the prescribed air quality standards as set by the European Union and UK Government. The assessment considered any likely changes in local and regional air quality as a result of the operation of the proposed scheme, due to projected changes in traffic movements on the road network. The local air quality pollutants assessed included nitrogen oxides, nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter. The assessment of regional level air quality included consideration of carbon dioxide emissions. Nitrogen deposition at nature conservation sites was also assessed.
The proposed scheme results in both increases and decreases in air pollutant levels in its vicinity, although changes are generally very small. No significant adverse impacts are predicted, other than at the area around St. Margaret’s Hope. Areas to the west of North Queensferry and South Queensferry which are close to the proposed scheme will experience slight detrimental impacts, whereas areas in the vicinity of North Queensferry and South Queensferry which are close to the Forth Road Bridge will experience slight beneficial impacts because of the decrease in traffic on that bridge once the new crossing is open.
Regional Air Quality
The assessment of regional air quality impacts predicted slight increases in nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter with the proposed scheme in place compared to the scheme not being in place. The continual improvements in vehicle technology and fuel efficiency underpinned by legislation are likely to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter over time.
CO2 and Climate Change
The main human influence on the global climate is emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2.
The assessment predicted an increase in carbon dioxide with the proposed scheme in place due to more vehicle kilometres being travelled. The scheme will increase the length of the majority of cross-Forth journeys by about 1km because the new crossing is slightly further west than the Forth Road Bridge.
The increase in CO2 emissions produced by the proposed scheme in 2032 is 20,317 tonnes, which represents 0.16 per cent of total transport sector emissions in Scotland in 2007 (12.4 million tonnes) (Scottish Government, 2009)1. These figures are derived from strategic modelled traffic data covering the national road network using established Department for Transport methodology. Although small in an overall Scottish context, this increase does not contribute to the requirement in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to reduce emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 (interim target) and 80 per cent by 2050. Therefore, the increase in CO2 as a result of the proposed scheme will require to be offset by greater reductions elsewhere within Scotland.
Further assessment was carried out to more fully capture the localised effect of "stop-start" motoring conditions on the congested approaches to the Forth Road Bridge and the localised benefits to be derived from relieving these conditions. The assessment involved modelling a local network in the vicinity of the Forth Replacement Crossing using an alternative approach that better takes into account the emissions from such "stop-start" traffic conditions. Initial findings indicate that during the congested morning peak period, increased CO2 emissions from the additional distance travelled may be mitigated by reduced congestion that the proposed scheme will deliver relative to the situation without the scheme. There is less congestion relief in the evening peak and therefore the mitigating effect referred to above is less evident during this period.
The proposed scheme is also likely to avoid the need for main cable replacement and other maintenance works that are envisaged to be necessary to retain the Forth Road Bridge in use in the absence of a replacement crossing (see "Effect of Works on the Forth Road Bridge" page 21).
Existing noise and vibration levels vary throughout the study area from the quiet rural locations to existing busy roads. The assessment has been undertaken in accordance with current best practice, and looked at potential changes in noise and vibration levels at sensitive receptors due to projected changes in traffic movements on the road network. All noise-sensitive receptors within 600m of the scheme have been considered including residential properties, schools and parks.
Measures have been built into the scheme to reduce noise impacts, including careful design of the alignment and cuttings and the use of low-noise road surfacing. Noise barriers will be installed as required to reduce or remove significant noise effects at various locations along the new southern connecting road between the main crossing and the tie-in with the A90. A noise barrier is also proposed to the southwest of Kirkliston.
Significant beneficial noise effects are predicted at the following locations
- the southern edge of the Echline estate, South Queensferry, facing directly onto the A904
- east and west of the approach road to the Forth Road Bridge.
- Significant adverse effects are predicted at the following locations:
- Clufflat Brae and Springfield Lea in South Queensferry
- Linn Mill and Inchgarvie House
- the western side of the Echline estate, South Queensferry.
No potentially significant vibration effects from operation of the scheme were identified.
There are a number of paths and cycle routes within the study area including core paths, rights of way, cycleways (including National Cycle Routes 1 and 76), equestrian routes and local paths.
The scheme has been carefully designed to incorporate new sections of footpaths, cycleways and safe crossing points to maintain these routes and minimise any potential increase in journey length for users.
The Forth Road Bridge will maintain the link between Fife and the Lothians for pedestrians and cyclists. The significant reduction in traffic on the bridge will improve the amenity of the route for users who will also gain a good view of the main crossing.
The significant decrease in traffic flow on the approaches to the Forth Road Bridge will also improve the amenity for pedestrians and cyclists using the surrounding area including paths and public parks such as Inchcolm Park in South Queensferry.
Significant adverse impacts are predicted for the existing paths at Ferrytoll and Echline due to the introduction of substantial new infrastructure to these areas. This will require changes to current routes and will alter the amenity of the area. Measures are included to reduce impacts on amenity value and access to the outdoors and limit the increase in journey length. These include providing alternative routes, safe crossings at junctions and landscape planting.
No communities will be directly severed by the proposed scheme and access to all community facilities will be maintained. The significant decrease in traffic flow on the A904 to the south of South Queensferry is predicted to relieve some existing severance between the housing development on the north side of the A904 and bus stops on the south side.
The assessment of impacts on vehicle travellers looked at the potential changes to views from the road and driver stress levels resulting from the proposed scheme.
North of the Firth of Forth, views for vehicle travellers will remain similar to those currently experienced from the existing A90, with steep rock cuttings, which will channel views towards the approach to the main crossing.
Views for travellers on the main crossing will also be similar to those from the Forth Road Bridge, with scenic, panoramic views across the Firth of Forth.
To the south of the Forth Road Bridge, the existing suburban views from the existing A90 will be replaced by a range of more open, attractive views from the new southern connecting roads, across rolling farmland and into the designed wooded landscape of Dundas. Overall, the proposed scheme will improve views for drivers and provide a stimulating and scenic journey.
Over time, traffic levels are forecast to increase on the road network and these increasing traffic levels impact on the level of driver stress. The assessment method uses a simple tabulated classification based on forecast traffic, speeds and carriageway provision. Driver stress is likely to remain the same as current conditions or increase during peak hours with or without the scheme, when expressed against a simple three-point scale. However, the following features of the design are examples of how the scheme may help to reduce the impact of some aspects of driver stress:
- improved signage to reduce confusion and uncertainty and improve navigation confidence
- additional hard shoulders and verges to improve road safety
- improved operational reliability and resilience in respect of maintenance requirements to reduce driver frustration during periods of maintenance
- reduction in the frequency and impact of incidents on traffic flow to reduce driver frustration arising from delays due to unplanned events
The construction works are scheduled to start in 2011 and are predicted to take more than five years in total, although some elements will be completed more quickly. The selected contractor will determine the precise programme for the works.
Land not already in the ownership of Scottish Ministers may be acquired through the Parliamentary Bill process for three temporary construction compounds located to the west of South Queensferry, to the west of the M9 Spur at M9 Junction 1a and at Ferrytoll Junction. These locations are indicative. If the contractor wishes to create site compounds outwith these areas, the necessary permissions to do this will be required.
Construction activities can potentially impact upon local communities and businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians and the natural environment. The operation of equipment and/or the movement of heavy construction traffic can create nuisance including noise, vibration, dust and loss of amenity.
The main impacts during construction relate to temporary traffic disruption, noise, dust, landscape and visual impacts, particularly for receptors close to the main crossing and the construction compounds situated at Ferrytoll, South Queensferry and M9 Junction 1a.
To ensure that construction impacts on people and the environment will be suitably reduced or avoided, a Code of Construction Practice has been produced, which sets out the minimum measures to control construction impacts. All contractors will be required to adhere to this code.
Examples of measures to avoid and reduce impacts include:
- programming of works to minimise the disruption period
- appropriate design or screening to reduce noise and visual impacts around the construction compounds
- following construction best practice to control dust generation and dispersal
- development of management plans for air pollution, noise and vibration control
- fencing off construction compounds to avoid health and safety hazards for the general public
- avoiding road closures wherever possible and providing diversion routes.
The main residual impacts from construction relate to temporary air quality, noise and vibration, landscape and visual impacts for properties close to the proposed scheme. Due to the extensive construction works which will be required, the landscape and visual impacts, although temporary in nature, cannot be completely mitigated. Adverse noise impacts have been identified at a number of receptors including at St Margaret’s Hope, St. Margaret’s Hope Gatelodge, Tigh-na-grian and Inchgarvie House, with vibration disturbance also anticipated at two of these - St. Margaret’s Hope Gatelodge and Inchgarvie House. The residual effects of construction-related vehicle emissions on air quality are not significant. Dust impacts, considered to be of medium to low risk, will be controlled by implementing the measures set out in the Code of Construction Practice. However, due to the close proximity to the construction works for the main crossing, it is anticipated that the risk of dust nuisance may be higher at Inchgarvie House during certain activities.
The principle of development of the proposed scheme is established within National Planning Framework 2 (NPF2) which identifies the scheme as a national priority of economic importance.
The scheme is not compliant with some national, regional and local policies in certain specific locations. Some of the road connections to the south of the Firth of Forth are located in green belt and this is contrary to national policy (see Scottish Planning Policy SPP212) and policies included in the Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan and the Rural West Edinburgh Local Plan. In addition, the proposed scheme affects some sites of cultural heritage importance both north and south of the Firth of Forth, which is also contrary to regional and local policies. These include St. Margaret’s Hope, Gatelodge and Arch, Port Edgar Barracks, Inchgarvie House, Ferry Craig House and Dundas Castle Designed Landscape.
Overall, however, the proposed scheme is considered to be largely compliant with national, regional and local planning and transport policies.
The cumulative impact assessment provides an overview of the combined impacts of the proposed scheme and also includes impacts from other proposed developments.
Two areas are identified as potentially experiencing cumulative impacts as a result of the combination of different types of impacts arising from the proposed scheme (but not from other developments). These are at the north bridgehead and the south bridgehead.
In the north bridgehead area, cumulative impacts may occur at the following receptors: St. Margaret’s Hope Gatelodge, St. Margaret’s Hope, the Queensferry Hotel, Ferry Craig House and Tigh-na-grian. Cumulative impacts may occur within the south bridgehead area for Inchgarvie House, Inchgarvie Lodge, residents at Clufflat Brae, pedestrians using informal footpaths and others in close proximity to the proposed location of the South Queensferry main construction compound and Port Edgar Barracks. These receptors may experience cumulative impacts produced by a combination of noise, ecological, land use, visual, and cultural heritage impacts.
Two national developments, at Rosyth and Grangemouth, are proposed to proceed at some time in the future. If they do, they may potentially produce cumulative impacts with the FRC since people and the general environment could potentially be more disturbed than by a single project. These impacts are not assessed in the Environmental Statement since detailed proposals for these developments are not available. When more information becomes available, the developers of these projects will be required to undertake assessments of the potential combined effects of the new developments and the FRC. Each project will have conditions which will have to be adhered to during construction and operation. These measures will control the significance of effects from each single project and therefore reduce the potential for significant cumulative impacts.
The environmental impacts associated with the scheme are derived from an assessment against a baseline which assumes continued operation of the existing road network and the Forth Road Bridge. Although this provides an understandable baseline as it is similar to the current situation, it may not be the most likely scenario, given the uncertain state of the existing Forth Road Bridge.
The uncertainties surrounding the various alternatives for refurbishing the existing bridge and the required closures are so great that any attempt to use these as the baseline against which to measure impacts could result in significant over or under-estimation of impacts. It would also be difficult to present findings in a clear and meaningful way.
To address this, the Environmental Statement includes a qualitative assessment of the likely impacts of partial closure of the Forth Road Bridge in the absence of a replacement crossing. This assessment should be considered together with the assessment of scheme impacts which assumes a baseline of continued Forth Road Bridge operation, as described above.
The assessment of impacts arising from the major repair works required for the Forth Road Bridge demonstrates significant disruption if these works were carried out in the absence of an alternative crossing. Significant delay is predicted for vehicles using the Forth Road Bridge, which would result in reduced traffic demand and some vehicle travellers using alternative routes via Kincardine.
It is predicted that traffic congestion created by the works would affect access within and around communities including Inverkeithing, North Queensferry, Rosyth, Dalmeny and South Queensferry, where junctions are likely to be blocked and re-routing will occur as residents attempt to use alternative routes. This loss of mobility within these communities would lead to a number of community effects including:
- limiting vehicular movements within the community
- reducing accessibility to key community facilities such as doctor surgeries, hospitals, educational facilities for commuting staff and users
- reducing access to retail and commercial facilities, potentially affecting customers, staff and suppliers.
Reduced traffic demand and significant levels of congestion resulting from the recabling works would adversely affect local businesses that rely on passing trade or on customers travelling by car.
If these major repair works were included in the baseline used to assess the environmental impact of the FRC, the FRC impacts for air quality, noise and community effects would significantly differ from those reported in the main body of the Environmental Statement. In particular, as impacts on the economy, people and communities in the vicinity of the Forth Road Bridge would be more severe with these works taking place, it follows that the beneficial impacts of the proposed scheme relative to this baseline would be greater than those reported in the main Environmental Statement and summarised in this NTS.
Regarding climate change issues, avoiding the need for cable replacement and the lengthy period of congested conditions associated with that work, would mean that total CO2 emissions during the congested peak periods for the proposed scheme are likely to be less than the predicted future baseline without the scheme in place and including main cable replacement over the period 2012 to 2025.
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