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Social Impacts of Transport: Literature Review and the State of the Practice of Transport Appraisal in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

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Transport appraisals in European countries increasingly address three dimensions of sustainability—economic, ecological and social. However, social impacts of transport have been underexposed in (ex-ante) transport project appraisal, at least in the Netherlands. Firstly, this article presents a theoretical framework describing the relationships between determinants of social impacts of transport; it also provides a definition and categorization of those impacts. Secondly, the article reviews the state of the practice of national transport project appraisal in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The article shows that social impacts of transport investments can take on many forms and their levels of importance may vary widely, in project appraisal. The UK transport appraisal guidance includes a spectrum of social impacts through quantitative and qualitative assessments that is broader than the Dutch appraisal guidance. However, it does not cover the full range as identified in the literature. This holds, in particular, for the temporary impacts of transport investments, health impacts, social cohesion, the distribution and accumulation of impacts across population groups and social justice. All in all, it can be concluded that there is a long way to go before social impacts of transport projects are completely included in appraisals, in a way that allows us to compare them to economic and ecological effects.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Bilthoven, The Netherlands 2: Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands 3: Delft, University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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