2. Environmental codes and assessments

This chapter provides a general overview of how environmental issues have been taken into account in road administrations in the ROADEX countries. It will not be an in-depth review, but more of an overview of the policies and guidelines of the participating authorities. An attempt will also be made to describe how the authorities intend to implement their guidelines into their projects. The countries will be considered in alphabetical order.

2.1. Finland

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is the highest authority in Finland in the transportation sector. [TS1] It outlines the guidelines for the implementation of environment policy related to traffic infrastructure. The current environment strategy of traffic is valid from year 2013 to year 2020 and defines the essential targets and lines. These are

1) the control and adaptation of climate change

2) the improvement of habitats and the reduction of health hazards caused by traffic. Health hazards include noise, air quality and groundwater

3) the protection of the Baltic Sea

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA) is at the moment formulating its own environment system. The FTIA is the uppermost bureau that leads and guides road policies in Finland according to the Ministry’s line. The FTIA’s work on environmental issues is governed by specifications which were accepted in 2014 by the Finnish Transport Agency. They also have an environment program which is updated regularly. This program gives recommendations for daily work.

The key issues in this work in addition to the above mentioned policies are the protection of surface water, biodiversity, landscape and cultural landscape and consumption of natural resources.

Finland is also concentrating on finding alternative options to the use of traditional diesel and petrol fuels and how to improve mobility as a service. Efforts currently are being directed mainly at road traffic, because it is easiest way to have an influence at national level, and because the main part of such emissions come from road traffic. Rail, sea and air transport also create emissions and these have to be considered in national policies in the widest sense.

References: https://vayla.fi/ymparisto#.XOfRhY-U8uU


2.2. Greenland

Greenland does not have any environmental codes related to general road construction at present. Guidelines are being prepared that will include environmental issues. These guidelines will be formalised and enforced at some point in the future.

At present however, it is necessary to obtain the Government’s approval in advance for the following infrastructure projects:

  • construction of new freeways, expressways, railways for long-distance traffic and airports with runway of at least 2,100 m,
  • construction of roads with a total length of over 2,000 m through the open country, and
  • tunnels longer than 100 m

according to The Government of Greenland’s Ordinance Nr. 5 of 27 March 2013 on assessment of the impacts of certain installations on the environment and payment for environmental supervision.

Reference: Janus Køster, sektionsingeniør, Ineqarnermut Attaveqaqatigiinnermullu Naalakkersuisoqarfik (The Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure)

2.3. Iceland

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA) has defined a range of environmental issues for its operations and activities. Based on this, the IRCA has formulated an environmental policy including environmental goals. The policy is based on the ISO 14001: 2015 standard, and IRCA is continuously working on improvements to it in accordance with ISO 14001 requirements. The main aim is to reduce and limit the environmental impacts of construction, maintenance and use of road and coastal infrastructure. All activities should be in harmony with the environment and society. Recovery and use of local vegetation and restrictions on the usage of hazardous substances such as additives in asphalt concrete and road markings are examples of projects that IRCA have worked on. During reconstruction of the road through Þingvellir national park, environmental issues were taken a step further where the road was designed to fit well with the landscape, local vegetation utilized and the environment of the area protected, including the lava.

IRCA monitors environmental aspects in its environmental accounting with key markers. Particular attention is paid to wetlands. Recovery of wetlands are used to mitigate any environmental impacts caused by IRCA activities. These projects are performed in collaboration with competent institutions in wetland recoveries.

IRCA has supported numerous projects designed to limit the ecological footprint of road construction, maintenance and use of infrastructure. These include assessing measures to reduce road dust due to car traffic, ecological footprints of new constructions, re-use of existing road materials and asphalt concrete, as well as numerous other projects aimed at improving the environment and society.


2.4. Ireland

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is responsible for environmental guidelines in Ireland. It integrates environmental issues into national road scheme planning, construction and operation. The former responsible operator was the Irish National Roads Authority (NRA), which was merged with the Railway Procurement Agency and was effectively dissolved on 1 August 2015. The merger of the two agencies is called Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is tasked with improving Ireland’s quality of life and national economic competitiveness by developing, maintaining and operating the national road, light rail, and metro network in a safe, cost effective and sustainable manner

The environmental guidelines in Ireland are based on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legal framework and the National Roads Project Management Guidelines (NRPMG). The TII has defined a four-stage environmental integration model (EIM). This makes it easier to monitor environmental issues over the whole process, not only in national road planning but also in construction and operation. The Environmental Integration Model (EIM) consists of the following four stages:

The TII’s four stage strategy EIM. Source of figure: https://www.tii.ie/tii-library/environment/planning-guidelines/Guidelines-for-the-Creation-and-Maintenance-of-an-Environmental-Operating-Plan.pdf

Issues associated with climate change are additionally dealt with separately in an EIM.

The purpose of the Planning Guidelines is to underpin Stage Three of the Environmental Integration Model, i.e. the development, implementation and maintenance of an Environmental Operating Plan (EOP) by the main contractor for the construction lifecycle of a national road scheme project. The EOP is defined as a document that outlines procedures for the delivery of environmental mitigation measures and for addressing general day-to-day environmental issues that can arise during the construction phase of a national road scheme.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has also published guidance documents to provide a step by step approach to minimizing impacts on badgers, bats, watercourse crossings and wetland archaeology prior to and during the construction phase of national road schemes.

TII’s Environmental Vision for the Future is divided into the areas of particular focus for the short, medium and long term targets. TII’s Environmental Vision for the future consist of several emphasis: seamless mobility, infrastructure, decarbonisations, autonomous vehicles, congestion cost, regional connectivity, land use patterns, ageing infrastructure, ecosystem services, resilience and extreme weather events and enhance  biodiversity. They have also standards, policy and guidelines, which have been published in relation to environmental issues such as biodiversity which include ecology, ecological surveying techniques, and invasive alien plant species (IAPS), air quality, noise and vibration, soils and geology, surface and groundwater, otters, bats and watercourses, etc. They can be found from TII’s website http://www.tiipublications.ie/.

Reference: Vincent O’Malley: Irish National Roads Authority’s (NRA) Approach to the Integration of environmental issues into national road scheme planning, construction and operation



2.5. Norway

The environmental vision for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration requires that transportation should not cause serious human or environmental damage.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Vegvesen has outlined that the transport sector in Norway has a number of environmental challenges. These are:

  • Emissions of greenhouse gasses
  • Land use and irrevocable changes to the natural environment and cultural heritage
  • Road traffic noise
  • Local air pollution
  • Pollution of water or soil

The NPRA has a sector responsibility for the environment through the planning, construction and operation of all European and national roads in Norway. It further has the responsibility to ensure that those parts of the government’s environmental policies that affect the sector are followed. The national guidelines for environmental work in Norway are contained in parliamentary documents, and the framework for Norwegian transport policy is drawn up in the National Transport Plan. Any environmental work is followed up in 4-year action programmes. The NPRA has developed guidelines and manuals that set out how the environment should be taken into account in planning, development and daily operation of the road network. Regional environmental strategies have been prepared for the south, centre and north regions of Norway.

Emission of greenhouse gases are expected to increase in Norway without new measures. Norway has committed to the Kyoto Protocol – stabilizing emissions at 1 % above the 1990 emission level. Road traffic is responsible for 24 % of the total Norwegian emissions of CO2.

The goal for urban regions is to increase environmentally friendly transportation, and to decrease the use of privately-owned motor vehicles, thus encouraging the use of public transportation, bicycles and pathways. Norwegian law sets requirements concerning levels of noise and air pollution within habitations.


2.6.  Scotland

The Scottish Government has a high level environmental policy that states that “Scotland is a beautiful country and we are blessed with abundant natural resources and architecture to rival the best in the world. The national policy outcome recognises that it is a duty to protect and enhance these assets as essential to our economy, culture, way of life and the wellbeing of future generations.”

Its vision states “We see our natural landscape and wilderness as essential to our identity and way of life. We take a bold approach to enhancing and protecting our natural assets and heritage. We ensure all communities can engage with and benefit from nature and green space. We live in clean and unpolluted environments and aspire to being the greenest country in the world.

We are committed to environmental justice and preserving planetary resources for future generations. We consume and use our resources wisely, ethically and effectively and have an advanced recycling culture. We are at the forefront of carbon reduction efforts, renewable energy, sustainable technologies and biodiversity practice. We promote high quality, sustainable planning, design and housing. Our transport infrastructure is integrated, sustainable, efficient and reliable. We promote active travel, cycling and walking, and discourage car reliance and use particularly in towns and cities.”

The Scottish Government is ensuring sustainable performance by:



2.7. Sweden

The environmental aspects of road building in Sweden are regulated by the Environmental Code.

This includes “consideration rules” for construction work as below:

  • The operator shall be responsible to show that the activity taken is done with enough consideration to environmental impact.
  • Every operator must have sufficient knowledge to act so that all environmental impact is minimized
  • All reasonable (possible?) measures necessary for avoiding  negative environmental impact shall be taken
  • The precautionary principle applies – that is if the operator does not know the effect of the activity, the activity should be avoided.
  •  The best possible technology should be used as far as possible.
  • Suitable measures and mitigation shall be carried out at all sites to comply with the above
  • The need of materials should be minimized and the reuse of materials should be addressed whenever possible.
  • Products that are used should be approved and follow the legislation of Swedish chemicals and material.
  • The polluter pays principle applies in Sweden, that means that the polluter shall always pay for any damage that may arise

To enable the Code to be implemented practically in roads operations, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is drawn up for all road objects. This includes a description of the road project, alternative measures, existing environmental qualities, land utilization and traffic conditions, impacts of any actions not being taken, expected environmental effects of the action, and measures aimed at minimizing the damage caused by the project. Differing emphases are placed on different parts of the above, depending on the stage in the construction process to which the environmental impact description relates.

The environmental work should be integrated in the planning process and the EIA is according to law required as part of the final plan for the road.

Read more about Swedish legislation in this link:


References, other than ROADEX information and publications used in this chapter, are presented after each chapter.