Indirect Effects to Include in Strategic Environmental Assessments of Transport Infrastructure Investments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - environmental impact, land use - planning, policy - environment, economics - appraisal/evaluation, place - urban


Urban development, Urban areas, Traffic flow, Residential areas, Planning, Evaluation and assessment, Environmental impact analysis, Energy


Indirect effects are important considerations when making consequence analyses in general and in strategic environmental assessments in particular of potential transport solutions and infrastructure plans. The primary objective of this paper is to emphasize the need for a deeper understanding of the long-term system effects of investments in transport infrastructure with a focus on the structuring effects that roads and railways have on society, e.g. altered transport patterns, altered settlement structures and changes in use of the built environment. Special attention is given to the following potential indirect effects: increased total transport volume, increased share of private motorists and truck transport, increased urban sprawl, and increased energy use in buildings. The conditions that determine the power of the effects are discussed and a number of key factors to be considered in transport infrastructure planning, especially in strategic environmental assessments, are suggested. Since many indirect effects emerge over time, an extended time perspective is of essence. Therefore, scenario techniques may be useful when analysing indirect effects in transport planning processes.