You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Consultation Paper

Air Departure Tax: consultations and environmental report

Published: 26 Jun 2017
Part of:
Economy, Transport

Consultations relating to our policy for an overall 50% Air Departure Tax (ADT) reduction by the end of the current session of Parliament. Includes a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

126 page PDF


126 page PDF


Air Departure Tax: consultations and environmental report
9 Landscape, Cultural Heritage and the Historic Environment

126 page PDF


9 Landscape, Cultural Heritage and the Historic Environment

9.1 Environmental Objectives

9.1.1 Relevant environmental protection objectives reflect the importance of all landscapes and also the need to help to improve those that have become degraded. The European Landscape Convention [249] lays the foundation for these objectives.

9.1.2 Key national objectives such as the establishment of the National Scenic Areas Programme and the development of Wild Land Areas by SNH [250] demonstrate a continuing commitment to recognise the special qualities of nationally important landscapes. Alongside this, the planning system also recognises and protects landscapes and seascapes at the local level. This includes the establishment of regional and local designations and recognition of their importance such as Local Landscape Areas and Special Landscape Areas.

9.1.3 Relevant cultural heritage objectives are set out in a number of legislative documents focused on the protection of valued sites, townscapes ( i.e. places, buildings and open spaces), buildings, archaeological sites, battlefields, wrecks and landscapes that have been recognised at the international, national and local levels through a hierarchy of designations. These broadly include the Historic Environment (Amendment) Scotland Act 2011 [251] , the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (as amended) [252] and the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 [253] .

9.1.4 Policies such as NPF3 and SPP aim to improve the quality of our settlements and built environment with a national level focus. These are complemented by the Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland (2014) [254] and the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement [255] , which provide an overarching framework for historic environment policy in Scotland. Together, they emphasise the importance of preserving recognised sites, avoiding negative impacts on them and their wider settings, and contributing to their enhancement, where appropriate, in a sustainable way. These key objectives also extend to taking into account of, and avoiding damage to or loss of, currently unknown archaeology.

9.2 Environmental Context

9.2.1 Scotland's diverse and distinctive landscapes are a significant part of the country's natural and cultural heritage, making an important and positive contribution to the economic, cultural and social wellbeing of the nation. There are 40 National Scenic Areas in Scotland, and over 13% of its land area has been classified as such [256] . Designations such as Local Landscape Areas, Special Landscape Areas, Regional Scenic Areas and Areas of Great Landscape Value have also been established at a regional and local level by many local authorities. These areas of important nature or landscape value have been designated locally for conservation purposes and protection from inappropriate development [257] . However, no National Scenic Areas [258] or Local Landscape Areas [259] have been designated near to Scotland's main airports.

9.2.2 While cultural heritage and historic assets are distributed widely throughout Scotland, there are clusters of sites in and around settlements and also around the coastlines. Many listed buildings and recorded historic features ( e.g. recorded in the Canmore Database) have been identified not just in the vicinity of Scotland's airports, but in many cases within airport boundaries [260] . For example, Edinburgh Airport is in proximity to a number of listed buildings and scheduled monuments, such as Gogar Mains Fort and Huly Hill cairn and stone circle. Within its boundary lies the Catstane scheduled monument. Similarly, a wide range of features with historic and heritage records have been identified near to and/or within the boundaries of Scotland's other main airports including Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick and Aberdeen, and many of its smaller airports [261] .

9.2.3 Inappropriate development is a key pressure on the historic environment, landscape and cultural heritage, both directly in terms of damage to known and unknown features, and in relation to potential site and setting impacts. There are also potential impacts on coastal landscapes and the historic environment as a result of climate change.

9.3 Findings

What are the likely implication of increased passenger and flight numbers on landscape, cultural heritage, and the historic environment?

9.3.1 The following paragraphs set out the potential impacts that are considered likely to arise from increased activity in the aviation sector. These are considered secondary impacts and are based on the assumptions that increased passenger and flight numbers will place increased pressure on existing infrastructure. However, it is considered that any secondary impacts that arise are outwith the ability of the policy option to influence.

9.3.2 The preferred policy option will give rise to potential implications in two main ways; firstly, as a result of any development or infrastructure works that may be required to facilitate the assumed growth in the sector. Incremental and on-going development, such as the upgrading of roads and infrastructure projects, is a key pressure on landscape [262] and can lead to the loss or damage of historical assets and impact the setting of some assets [263] .

9.3.3 The SEA of the NPF3 noted that there would be the potential for negative impacts to arise from the proposed Strategic Airport Enhancements [264] . Predicted impacts included loss of and damage to cultural heritage resources, and negative effects in landscape character.

9.3.4 Climate change is also a key pressure and Scotland's landscapes and historic environment could be affected by changing temperatures, rainfall, weather events such as flooding and droughts, and sea-level change [265] . The impacts of the preferred policy option with regard climate change have been reported under the Climatic Factors topic.

9.3.5 The degree to which the identified increase in passenger numbers is realised will further influence these secondary effects. For example, undertaking a differential approach to how the tax reduction in applied such as discussed in the illustrative scenarios could influence this.

9.3.6 It is considered that there would be no direct impact on passenger and flight numbers as a result of the reasonable alternative as this approach would lead to no reduction in the overall burden of ADT.

9.3.7 Another pressure that may arise is through increased visitor numbers [266] . Scotland's heritage attracts millions of visitors each year, and whilst raising awareness of Scotland's assets brings advantages both locally and nationally, increased visitors can also lead to pressures both in and around sensitive areas in which assets can be located [267] . However, it is not considered within the scope of the preferred policy option to have influence over onward journeys undertaken by passengers.

What wider context and potential mitigation measures should be taken into account?

9.3.8 Airport masterplans consider potential development up to 2040, with acknowledgement that predicting requirements up to this stage is complex, and that there are many variables which influence passenger demand, for example economic and global events.

9.3.9 Masterplans continue to play an important role in stakeholder engagement in addition to their value in informing the planning process. Guidance on the preparation of airport masterplans also sets out the importance of considering heritage and landscape impacts within these plans, stating that proposals for mitigation measures across the areas where major impacts have been identified should be set out [268] .

9.3.10 Any future airport development, including supporting infrastructure, would be outwith the preferred policy option to influence. Additionally, any future development proposals may be required to undertake an EIA. Further project level assessment will be required establish significance.

What is the likely significance of the predicted impacts?

9.3.11 It is considered likely that the potential impacts that could arise from infrastructure requirements will be realised at airports and their surrounding environs. The location and design of development will be important in terms of the overall setting of the airport in its landscape.

9.3.12 Any impact on landscape and on historical or cultural heritage assets is likely to be considered as part of the EIA/planning process. A careful approach to any works being undertaken may be required to ensure that any previously unknown archaeological assets are not damaged. This will require consideration at a local level. Any current pressures may also influence significance as these may be exacerbated through further development.

9.3.13 The potential impacts that have been identified as likely to arise from development requirements could be long-term, with their significance dependent on factors such as the scale and location of the proposed development. Significance will also be influenced by the degree of the predicted increase in passenger numbers likely to arise. Short-term impacts may also arise from construction activities.

9.3.14 Further to this, there may be implications on important landscape, cultural heritage and historic environment assets as a result of climate change. In addition to local importance, Scotland also has a number of national and international designated sites.

Box 9.1 Landscape, Cultural Heritage and the Historic Environment: Summary of key impacts and key points

  • New infrastructure requirements (which will involve construction activities) may arise as a result of increased flights and passenger numbers and this could place pressure on local cultural/historic sites and assets.
Key Points
  • Scotland's diverse and distinctive landscapes are a significant part of the country's natural and cultural heritage.
  • Key pressures on our landscapes, cultural heritage and historic environment include climate change and inappropriate development.