Environmental assessment of strategic transport actions: SEA in CODE-TEN

Juha Tervonen, Jukka Räsänen

Research output: Book/ReportReport


Pan-European integration has brought the environmental evaluation of transport into a new scope due to the size of development schemes. For instance, developing and extending the Trans-European Networks (TENs) is likely to impact the environment on a very large scale. The Common Transport Policy (CTP) - the main European strategic policy document to date - identifies environmental issues among the objectives of sustainable mobility (Commission of the European Communities 1992 and 1999). Therefore, a strategic assessment process should reflect how transport policies either promote or act counter to environmental sustainability. Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is a framework for evaluating the environmental performance of strategic plans, policies and programmes, and judging on an implementation scheme, which best meets the relevant quality criteria. The framework itself is meaningless, unless it supports strategic decision-making. In CODE-TEN - a research project funded by the European Commission - a methodology for assessing the socio-economic impacts of strategic transport actions was developed. As an application, a set of alternative infrastructure policies was examined. Experience shows that assessing the environmental impacts of strategic transport actions with sufficient coverage requires modelling the European network and traffic flows as an entity. The transport model must be linked with economic scenarios for projecting future transport development. Infrastructure policies or other strategic actions must be specified as well as linked with the projection tools. Modeling is needed for quantifying the impacts for a set of environmental indicators. Finally, the impact information must be weighted against sustainability criteria. The results are then passed on to overall policy assessment, which weights all socio-economic impacts against each other. In order to develop more systematics into SEA, an agreement should be reached upon which impacts should be included in strategic analysis. As too many impacts cannot be assessed due to capacity constraints, some impacts may be assigned to represent a group of related impacts as proxies, according to the conduct of CODE-TEN. It should be debated whether site-specific impact information should be included in the assessment, or whether these issues should be automatically considered in the planning and implementation phases of infrastructure projects. The environmental objectives should be debated to clarify their relative importance between each other. The results of the assessment experiment demonstrate that alternative transport infrastructure development policies have an impact on the environmental impacts of transport. Road-based policies will intensify environmental detriments, whereas rail and intermodality-based network policies may curb unfavourable development trends. In eastern parts of Europe, where existing networks are insufficient in capacity and quality, the importance of infrastructure policies is relatively stronger than in the EU. Therefore, the analyst must carefully interpret these findings and the potentials of alternative policies in the light of regional premises. As an important generalisation, even the network-based infrastructure policies alone will not lead to the achievement of environmental objectives. Statutory and economic control measures need to be included in sustainable policy packages.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)951-38-5934-7
Publication statusPublished - 2001
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesVTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes


  • transportation
  • environmental impacts
  • assessment
  • emissions
  • sustainability
  • air quality
  • biodiversity
  • noise control
  • climatic change


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