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GP: Transport and Sensitive Areas; an Example of the Lake Neusiedl Region - Austria

Project Background and Objectives

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The Vienna Declaration of the UNECE Conference on Transport and the Environment (Vienna 1997) defined 'sensitive areas' as a field of action requiring sustainable transport development. In these areas, special attention has to be paid to reducing the adverse health and environmental impacts of transport to acceptable limits.

The pilot study for the Lake Neusiedl Region constitutes an important Austrian contribution to UNECE activities. It integrates the principles set forth in the base study 'Criteria for Ecologically Particularly Sensitive Areas' drawn up and published by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and addresses the specific development potential of sensitive areas: Sensitive areas have the special features that promise sustainable future development for the economy, ecology and society.

The Lake Neusiedl Region was selected for this pilot study because it is one of Europe's most outstanding landscape's. Within a narrow space there is a rich variety of natural habitats, an old cultural and settlement landscape, and the leisure time and recreation infrastructure of a tourist region. Its ecological and cultural features, but also its vulnerable balance of land use and ecosystems, make the Lake Neusiedl Region a sensitive area with extraordinary opportunities for creating sustainable living spaces and modes of economic activity – and this in an area located at the centre of a highly dynamic economic region and exposed to the impact of increasing east-west and north-south traffic.

The pilot study was prepared by an interdisciplinary team of experts in close cooperation with experts from the region, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology and specialised institutions of the Land Burgenland as well as representatives of interested communities and regional institutions in the field of nature protection, agriculture, transport, tourism, the regional business community, spatial planning and regional development.

The study is based above all on the findings of three region workshops (in Neusiedl at Lake Neusiedl, Purbach, Schützen am Gebirge) and the results of the International Conference on Transport and the Environment in Europe, which, organised by joint initiative of Austrian authorities (the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology, Land Burgenland) and the UNECE in cooperation with the CEI, convened in Eisenstadt on 14–15 March 2001 and brought together over 200 experts from more than 25 countries.

Within the framework of this conference, the Austrian and the Hungarian environmental ministers signed a letter of intent regarding the implementation of a Cross-Border Pilot Project on Sustainable Transport and Tourism for Sensitive Areas on the Example of the Austrian/Hungarian Neusiedler See/Fertö-tö Region.

Guiding Principles

Ecologically particularly sensitive areas constitute the weakest links in the chain of ecosystems and landscapes, which makes them a highly challenging issue for transport policy and system development, above all with a view to the planning of transport infrastructure.

• At the European level, the Vienna UNECE Declaration on Transport and the Environment and the CEI (Central European Initiative) Declaration “Towards Sustainable Transport in the CEI Region” (both 1997) were the first initiatives to focus on sensitive areas as a field of action for sustainable and environmentally compatible transport policy.

• The Alpine Convention sets forth clearly defined objectives for environmentally sustainable transport in the sensitive Alpine Region.

• At the EU level, the issue of specific regulations for sensitive areas has also been shifting into the foreground (e.g. EU Directive on fuel quality).

• The Austrian National Environmental Plan also defines principles and requirements of sustainable transport planning that are of major relevance for transport concepts for ecologicaly particularly sensitive areas.

The guiding principles for sensitive transport solutions in sensitive areas can be derived from the three basic pillars of sustainable development:

• Ecologically compatible by complying with environmental quality and health targets;
• Economically profitable by providing for efficient transport systems and good accessibility;
• Socially just due to safe traffic and transport systems and balanced mobility opportunities.

Based on the programmes and agreements drawn up at the international and national level and with a view to the basic criteria characterising sensitive areas – value, fragility and potential –the following principal requirements can be defined for traffic and transport systems in general and the highly important issue of infrastructure requirements of ecologically sensitive areas in particular:


Developing a perspective for a sustainable and environmentally compatible transport development taking into account the requirements of sensitive areas:

The framework concept on which to base a transport development plan should start out from predefined environmental and health quality targets qualified with respect to the specific degree of ecological sensitivity. With a view to sustainable development and transport integration, these environmental and health targets should be treated equal in ranking with economic and social goals.

Determining transport development options and a suitable mix of measures for transport development in sensitive areas:

Transport systems in sensitive areas should be conceived to meet regional accessibility and mobility needs, and therefore should be restricted to providing the infrastructure to serve in- and outgoing traffic and mobility within the respective area. Supra-regional transit routes and transport corridors – especially road-based transport and transnational connections (highways, high-speed roads, high-speed railway lines, major airports) – should not be routed through sensitive areas.

Generally, environmentally compatible means of transport like railway and public transport should be actively prioritised against transport options with a pronounced impact on the environment, e.g. truck and individual automobile traffic.

Particular requirements on infrastructures in sensitive areas:

In ecologically particularly sensitive areas, priority must be given to promoting the use of eco-friendly means of transport combined in the so-called Umweltverbund, while at the same time improving the road infrastructure and road transport conditions so as to enhance environmentally compatible transportation.

The principles that govern all planning and implementation of infrastructure projects are to avoid immissions, keep land consumption low and protect the landscape. Land consumption and impairments of landscapes should be reduced to a minimum.



Pilot Projects

Recommended proposals for development and implementation are the following pilot projects:

Pilot project 1: Innovations in public transport

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• Regional mobility on regular schedules (e.g. Lake Neusiedl Schedule) for optimum networking of railway, bus, taxi services, etc. and demand oriented public transport services, improved services to residential and commercial centres, bathing resorts along the lake and tourist attractions.
• New mobility services (e.g. community bus, call-a-bus services, collective taxi services, buses servicing bathing resorts and preferred cycling areas, car sharing, etc.
• Integrating cycling and hiking in „environmentally compatible mobility chains“ in every-day and leisure-time traffic, involving efforts to make it easier to take a train with a bike, covered bike-parking facilities, and automated rent-a-bike systems.

Pilot project 2: Cross-border regional mobility centre

• A “traffic and transport hub” for developing and optimising public transport services and an information centre on all soft mobility options and services with the key objective of customer oriented promotion of public transport.
• Designing attractive mobility services for specific target groups by creating public transport packages for tourism, business, schools, etc.
• Developing a comprehensive travel information system based on new information and communication technologies.

Pilot project 3: Ecomobility for ecotourism

• Quality tourism through ecomobility for recreational tourism, mobility management for the National Park Lake Neusiedl and the planned Natural Park Leitha Mountain Range - Western Lake Shore. (“Cherry Region”)
• Attractive mobility experience and mobility packages for tourists, excursionists, the resident population in the region with train, bus, ship, cycling and walking and incoming visitors. (“Holidays from the car”)
• “Cycling Region Lake Neusiedl”, “Hiking Region Leitha Mountain Range”.

Pilot project 4: + Company mobility management in regional key enterprises/Freight Logistics
+ Fortification of downtown

• Transport efficiency and environmental improvement through soft mobility and rationalisation: for businesses, employees and the residential population.
• Innovative regional freight transport logistics.
• Networking based on innovative product and marketing concepts.
• Fortification of downtown; multifunctional regional centres for short routes

Pilot project 5: New vehicle technologies and landscape tailored infrastructure

• Regional low-floor trains, bio-fuel propelled vehicles, electric cars, alternative propulsion technologies, etc.
• Extension of cycling and pedestrian paths, revitalisation, more attractive and a greater number of railway stations and bus stops.
• Modernisation and expansion of public transport routes and lines, e.g. optimising lines, networking, closing gaps, electrification of railway lines, adjusting road construction to the requirements of landscapes and communities (aiming at a significant and lasting relief effect) paralleled by traffic calming measures in towns and villages.

 

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