Five objectives for transport
The appraisal of any form of transport investment requires a clear understanding of the objectives, which are to be met, and appropriate criteria to be used to decide whether a proposal meets them. The Government's five objectives for transport are pivotal to the appraisal process.
Environmental impact involves reducing the direct and indirect impacts of transport facilities on the environment of both users and non-users.
Safety is concerned with reducing the loss of life, injuries and damage to property resulting from transport incidents and crime.
Economy is concerned with improving the economic efficiency of transport.
Accessibility is concerned with the ability with which people can reach different locations and facilities by different modes.
Integration aims to ensure that all decisions are taken in the context of the Government's integrated transport policy.
There is tension between these objectives, such that proposals may contribute to the achievement of one objective, but work against the achievement of others. The appraisal procedure must allow determination of an appropriate balance between the five objectives. An Appraisal Summary Table (AST) provides a means of summarising the impact of a proposal on the five objectives.
Three-stage appraisal procedure
Scheme assessment reports act as a summary of the more technical reports generated during the appraisal of road schemes. They are written to be unbiased and easy to read using a factual style, which describes both the advantages and disadvantages of routes or corridors; their principal audience is the public. Scheme assessment reporting is a three stage procedure, the level of detail and the coverage of the assessment report is appropriate to the type of decision that can reasonably be taken at each stage.
Identify the environmental, engineering, economic and traffic advantages, disadvantages and constraints associated with broadly defined improvement strategies. This concludes in the selection of a number of potential routes or scheme options.
Identify the factors to be taken into account in choosing alternative routes or improvement schemes and to identify the environmental, engineering, economic and traffic advantages and constraints associated with those routes or schemes. This concludes in the selection of a preferred route or scheme option.
Identify clearly the advantages and disadvantages, environmental, engineering, economic and traffic terms of the preferred route or scheme option. A particular requirement at this stage is an assessment of the significant environmental effects of the project in accordance with The Roads (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 which came into operation on 16 May 2017. This transposes the EIA Directive 2011/92/EU, as amended by 2014/52/EU, into Northern Ireland legislation.
Traffic appraisal provides future year estimates of daily traffic flows for both high and low growth forecasts, the resulting range of flows being regarded as the widest range within which it is normally sensible to plan. For the purposes of economic appraisal and subsequent decision making, no point within the range is considered to be more likely than any other.
Some of the 'goods' provided by the Public Sector such as defence, schools and roads are not directly charged for. Consequently financial criteria are of little help in ensuring that money is spent in a consistent and efficient manner and that benefits to society from investments are maximised. Cost Benefit Analysis is a technique, which has been developed to asist in the appraisal of the non-marketable output of Public Sector investments.
COst Benefit Analysis (COBA), a Department for Transport sponsored computer programme, estimates the effects of highway improvements, in terms of time, vehicle operating and accident costs on the users of the road system. These cost changes are compared with the construction and maintenance costs over the appraisal period. Traffic flows with and without the scheme being appraised are input together with a detailed geometric description of the network links and junctions. The individual link and junction user costs are summed to yield the total cost over the network.
DfI Roads attaches great importance to environmental issues. Environmental assessment is a method and process by which information about environmental effects is collected, assessed and used to inform decision-making.
The main aims of an environmental assessment of road schemes are:
- to ensure that the likely environmental effects of possible schemes are fully considered so that decisions can be made with a knowledge of their environmental consequences, including the decision whether or not to to proceed with the further development of a scheme and, if it were to go ahead, to aid the identification of ways in which the environmental effects could be minimised through route selection and other measures
- to ensure consideration of the likely environmental effects of route options in a way which enables the importance of the predicted effects and the scope for mitigating these to be properly evaluated
- to allow the public and statutory environmental bodies to comment on the proposal taking account of their environmental implications
Stages of assessment
Environmental assessment is a continuous process used to inform all decisions in the development and design of a road scheme. It is reported in three stages, the level of detail and the coverage of the assessment is appropriate to the type of decision that can reasonably be taken at each stage.
Sufficient assessment to identify the environmental advantages, disadvantages and constraints associated with broadly defined route corridors.
Sufficient assessment to identify the factors and effects to be taken into account in choosing the route options and to identify the environmental advantages, disadvantages and constraints associated with those routes.
Stage 3 - prior to the publication of an Environmental statement
An assessment in accordance with The Roads (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 which came into operation on 16 May 2017. This transposes the EIA Directive 2011/92/EU, as amended by 2014/52/EU, into Northern Ireland legislation.