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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Simon Lamb

Sustainable Assessment Techniques for UK Highway infrastructure

Simon Lamb

Sustainable Assessment Techniques for UK Highway infrastructure

The UK has a highly developed highway network which supports the trading of goods, but can also blight the rural landscape and sever communities. The current assessments for new highway schemes consist of Cost Benefit Analysis and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). These assessments are primarily focussed upon benefits to road users and assessing likely environmental effects. They do not integrate or evaluate sustainable development issues. To evaluate the effectiveness of the EIA process and identify a shift towards fuller integration into sustainable development, four case studies of highway improvement projects have been selected. A checklist of good practice and statutory requirements for EIA have been formulated and applied to the case studies to identify suboptimal areas and emerging themes. A synthesised sustainability framework has also been developed specifically for the assessment of highway projects utilising a questioning approach based upon fifteen modalities from Brandon & Lombardi (2005). The modality framework was applied to the case studies and current government appraisal guidance. The evaluation identified many shortcomings within the case studies which have since been improved upon by updated assessment methodologies. Further improvements have been identified for EIA to be used as a platform for sustainable development. These include developing a more extensive and comprehensive framework that considers cumulative and secondary impacts with greater emphasis on the conservation of capital. Facilitating earlier and increased levels of empowerment for non-statutory stakeholders is also recommended.