Environmental Legislation and TEN-T implementation
There are five Community directives particularly relevant for the Trans European Transport Network:
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive
- Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive
- Birds Directive
- Habitats Directive
- Water Framework Directive
Environmental assessment – The EIA Directive for project assessment, and the SEA Directive for plan and programme assessment are procedural directives largely intended to improve decision-making. They do not predetermine outcomes. They require the evaluation of a wide range of environmental impacts and consultation with environmental authorities and the public (including cross border consultations). The correct and proactive application of EIA and SEA, for example through choice of route, and continuous consultation with the population concerned by such projects, is directly related to the successful implementation of the TENs
Nature – Birds Directive and Habitats Directive in particular in relation to impacts on the network of Natura 2000 sites and species benefiting from a strict protection regime (listed in Annex IV of the Directive). The protection and conservation regimes for Natura 2000 sites are set out in Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. This provides for proactive measures (positive conservation actions that may include management plans), preventative measures (requiring steps to avoid loss of value of sites) and procedural safeguards (to deal with plans and projects that may affect the overall integrity of the sites). The Habitats Directive lays down substantive requirements regarding approval of a plan or project, which is intended to be served by the procedure envisaged in its Article 6(3) and (4).
Water – Water Framework Directive for infrastructures with potential risks of water resources deterioration. Article 4.7 of the Directive describes the conditions under which "new activities" like the development of new infrastructures or works (e.g. new roads, new canals, deepening of navigation channels) downgrading the status of water bodies can be accepted.
The Habitats and Water Framework Directives also envisage mitigation and in a final stage, compensatory measures (in the case of the Habitats Directive), in the case of overriding public interests.
Addressing climate change requires two types of response: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions ("mitigation measures") and implementation of adaptation" actions to deal with the unavoidable impacts.
Adaptation is particularly relevant for existing transport infrastructure where, for example changes in rain fall and heat patterns may be different from those that were taken into account when infrastructures were designed. Risks of damage and disruption due to storms, floods, heat waves, fires and landslides are expected to increase. The predicted sea level rise clearly has particular implications for ports for example, reducing the sheltering effect of breakwaters and quay walls. It could also have impacts where transport infrastructures are located close to the sea.
It is going to be important to integrate adaptation into policies and adopt measures to increase the resilience of infrastructure. This will mean
- promoting measures that are beneficial both for mitigation of and adaptation to climate change,
- avoiding adaptation measures that will make it more difficult to cope with future climate risks or exacerbate impacts in another region or cause the poorest groups or regions to be the worst hit
- adopting in the first place adaptation measures that would pay off in the short term irrespective of uncertainties in the future forecasts ("no regret" measures)
- considering worst-case scenario measures, even if uncertainties are high, in cases where the costs or the magnitude of the impacts in such scenarios would be unacceptable