Case Studies

Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment for the Isle of Wight Highways Private Finance Initiative

Client: Isle of Wight Council

In August 2011, following on from our work on the Island Transport Plan, our team was appointed by Isle of Wight Council to carry out Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment for the Highway Private Finance Initiative.


Through an investment of £487million over 25 years, the PFI seeks to rehabilitate the Island’s roads, footways, street lighting and most other aspects linked to the Island’s highway network to reverse decades of historic under-investment.

The project is a genuinely innovative example of strategic assessment in action. The assessments were applied during the PFI procurement process to ensure that environmental considerations were locked-in from the outset.

Bidders for the PFI contract were supplied with data from the SEA Scoping Report so that their outline proposed solutions for the contract could take account of environmental opportunities and constraints from the early design phases. The way in which bidders proposed to deal with such constraints was assessed through the SEA framework, and any likely significant effects on internationally important nature conservation sites were identified, so that the Council could proactively select the proposals with best environmental performance.

The assessments were iterative and interactive, allowing bidders for the contract to have access to the process and findings of assessments while maintaining commercial confidentiality.

Natural England and the Environment Agency were consulted on the assessment results and could therefore comment on scheme design at an early stage.

This ensured that proposals could be refined to improve environmental performance as designs progressed, to increase the likelihood of each scheme successfully and quickly gaining the necessary consents once the PFI contract commenced.


The Highways PFI contract commenced in 2013.

  • Our Clients

    Isle of Wight Council Highways Team sought advice on the environmental implications of a nearly £1billion, 25 year programme of highways upgrade, maintenance and operation. Working on the Habitats Regulations Assessment (and associated Strategic Environmental Assessment), they took a very professional and knowledgeable approach to the subject and met all our tight deadlines with ease. They quickly became part of the PFI team and interacted well. The director was an asset at meetings with prospective bidders and outside bodies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency, always having the necessary information to hand. I have no hesitation in making a recommendation.

    Malcolm Smith, Technical Manager, Highways PFI Team, Isle of Wight Council
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