INTEGRATING THE ENVIRONMENT INTO EU TRANSPORT FUNDING

ENSURING THAT EU INVESTMENT IN TRANSPORT IS CONSISTENT WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

The provision, development and maintenance of transport infrastructure – such as roads, railways, ports and airports – is important for society and the economy. However, using land for transport infrastructure inevitably means that it cannot be used for other purposes, including for nature and the ecosystem services that nature provides. There is therefore a balance to be struck between developing the transport network and protecting nature and, where possible, to develop infrastructure without adversely affecting nature. TEPR is currently working with Belgian consultancy Milieu on a project looking at the extent to which EU financial support for transport infrastructure is consistent with protecting the environment.

EU financial support for transport infrastructure

There are many EU funds that potentially support the development of transport infrastructure. The most significant of these are the funds that support regional development, such as the Cohesion Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, and those that support the development of the trans-European transport network (also known as the TEN-T), particularly the Connecting Europe Facility.

Protecting the environment

At the same time, EU policies aim to protect the environment both for its own sake and to ensure that it continues to provide us with ecosystem services, such as the provision of water, soil and air. To do this, EU policy aims to significantly reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and the emissions that cause air pollution; the transport sector is a significant source of both of these. EU policy also aims to protect nature and to ensure that development takes account of the services that nature provides.

Ensuring the consistency of EU policies

In order to ensure that EU financial support for transport infrastructure does not undermine its environmental policies, there is a need to take account of any potential environmental implications when funding decisions are made. This is referred to as ‘mainstreaming’ the environment in transport funds, i.e. ensuring that environmental considerations are given their appropriate level of importance in the decision-making process.

The aim is to achieve this through the way in which financial support is given, and the type of projects that it is given to. For example, EU Member States wishing to receive financial support for transport from the EU’s regional funds must have a comprehensive transport plan in place and this must have been subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to ensure that it takes appropriate account of the environment.

In the same way, the focus of the funds that support the development of the trans-European transport network is on supporting projects for modes that have the potential to deliver more transport for less environmental impact.

Evaluating the success of ‘mainstreaming’ the environment in EU transport funds

TEPR is currently working with Belgian consultancy Milieu on a project that aims to identify whether or not previous attempts at mainstreaming the environment in EU transport funding have been successful. It aims to identify the level of EU transport funds that are spent on ‘sustainable’ transport projects, i.e. projects that are in line with wider environmental objectives, and to explore whether the requirement to apply an SEA to national transport strategies has been a success.

Once this has been determined, recommendations will be put forward for improving the environmental performance of future investments in transport infrastructure.

For More Information

TEPR is an independent research consultancy that works on projects to improve the environmental performance of transport. More information on similar work that has been undertaken by TEPR, visit our greening transport infrastructure page. For more details about the above project, or our work more generally, contact Ian Skinner at TEPR (ian.skinner@tepr.co.uk) or call +44 (0) 1892 663289.

Picture credit: pixabay

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.