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.