5.1.1 An assessment of the environmental effects of the Proposed Development during its construction and operation has been completed for each of the environmental topics identified in the Environmental Statement.
5.1.2 The likely significant environmental effects are fully described within Environmental Statement, Volume I.
5.2 Air and Climate
5.2.1 During the construction phase, potential localised impacts could arise from machinery such as mini diggers or excavators. However, traffic emissions are not considered likely to be significantly increased. The level of construction traffic required for a project of this scale will not have a significant impact on the local air quality or climate; neither will a construction project of this nature result in any significant generation of dust. The principal source of potential air emissions during construction will be dust arising from ground excavation works, construction of new structures, constructions of new wide paths, temporary storage of excavated materials, movement of construction vehicles, construction of temporary compounds, loading and unloading of aggregates and materials, and the movement of material around the site. Emissions will be minimised through best practice.
5.2.2 Due to the transient nature of the actual construction works, significant impacts from dust are more likely to occur beside site entrances/compounds where activities are more concentrated. However, as the construction works will be phased, all five site compounds/entrances will not be in operation for the full duration of the construction phase and any impacts will be temporary in duration.
5.2.3 Plant and machinery such as generators and excavators for example, will be required at various stages of the construction works. These will be relatively small units which will be operated on an intermittent basis. Although there will be an emission from these units, given their scale and the duration of operational time, the impacts of emissions from these units will be negligible.
5.2.4 During the operational phase, as the Greenway will be used by walkers and cyclists, dust, air quality and climate emissions will be negligible.
5.2.5 Overall, there will be no residual effect on air quality as a result of the Proposed Development.
5.3 Cultural Heritage and Archaeology
5.3.1 The majority of the footprint of the Proposed Development comprises previously developed ground with some sections requiring no construction.
5.3.2 The existing terrain mainly comprises foreshore including rocky shorelines. Given this and the limited nature of most groundworks it is assessed that the archaeological potential within the majority of the Proposed Development is low. The magnitude of impact is assessed as Minimal resulting in a significance of effect of Negligible.
5.3.3 The baseline assessment has identified three areas of archaeological potential associated with the historic settlement of Bangor, the historic settlement of Donaghadee, and the Planned Landscape of Crawfordsburn.
5.3.4 Other areas of archaeological potential are associated with groundworks adjacent to recorded archaeological sites. These include a coastal battery at Greypoint Fort, which is a State Care Monument, and a rath at Carnalea.
5.3.5 During the construction phase, the settings of various heritage assets in the vicinity of the Proposed Development will likely be visually impacted by the works and also impacted by noise, dust, or vibration from construction activities immediately adjacent. These impacts will be temporary and limited to the construction phase. They will not impact the ability to understand these assets or diminish their importance.
5.3.6 Overall, this assessment has identified that, after mitigation, there would be minor effects upon the setting of 131 heritage assets, of which, 88 are designated. Of these 88 designated assets, 13 are considered high value with the remaining 75 considered medium importance. None of these effects however are assessed as being significant.
5.4.1 The North Down coastal area is protected by a range of international, national, and local ecological designations, including Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Ramsar Sites, Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs), and Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance (SLNCIs). There are also several parcels of long-established woodland and several areas of priority habitat. The area contains a range of protected species, such as badger, otter, bat, red squirrel and pine marten, and is host to an array of breeding and wintering bird populations. Numerous watercourses traverse the survey area, varying from drainage ditches to streams, channelled under the existing pathways.
5.4.2 During construction, and in the absence of mitigation, likely significant effects to biodiversity from the Proposed Development include habitat loss (through vegetation removal), noise, and visual disturbance to hibernating, breeding, or foraging populations of fauna species, or the potential for suspended solids, oils, fuels, or other contaminants to be carried into watercourses, particularly following topsoil stripping.
5.4.3 An extensive suite of species-specific ecological surveys has been undertaken as part of the environmental assessment process, as documented within the Environmental Statement. This has identified various potential impacts and recommended a comprehensive set of mitigation measures, and has concluded that with appropriate mitigation, the effects of construction will be reduced.
5.4.4 There are no potential operational phase impacts that would negatively impact any European sites, national sites, non-statutory designated sites, long-established woodland parcels, habitats, invasive species, roosting bats, wintering birds, red squirrels, pine martens, grey or common seals, harbour porpoise, hedgehogs, and protected or priority species of invertebrates.
5.4.5 In summary, with the implementation of the Construction Environmental Management Plan during the construction phase of the Proposed Development, the likelihood of significant effects to European and national designated sites and non-statutory designations is low.
5.4.6 The Proposed Development will result in permanent loss of habitat. However, with mitigation the impacts to habitats will only be significant at a Local geographic scale with respect to Priority Habitats, and not significant with respect to other habitats.
5.4.7 However, long-term management of invasive species during operation, if devised and carried out, has the potential for positive effects at a Local geographic scale.
5.5 Landscape and Visual Effects
5.5.1 During the construction phase, the highest landscape and visual effects will be experienced in the vicinity of the Proposed Development, from residential locations with open or partial views of the scheme and along the roads where construction traffic will travel. Principal views of construction works will likely be experienced within a radius of up to approximately 500m from the boundary of the scheme.
5.5.2 The majority of ground works will be either screened by intervening vegetation and existing buildings or only partially visible from residential properties and the local road network located directly adjacent to the North Down Coastal Path.
5.5.3 The main landscape and visual mitigation measures focus on existing tree protection measures, minimising external lighting related to construction works, and regular cleaning of public roads to remove any tracks.
5.5.4 Long distance views of construction works will be experienced from locations along the northern shores of Belfast Lough as well as from elevated views in the areas of Holywood and Bangor. Considering the distance of these views of 5km and beyond, visibility is considered not significant due to the effects of distance. Construction works on seawalls and bridge crossings will also be visible from the shipping/ ferry channels in Belfast Lough but will be infrequent and temporary and not considered significant.
5.5.5 During operation, the visual receptors will include many local residences with sea views and users of outdoor recreational facilities, that value the sea views.
5.5.6 Other receptors include vehicle travellers, walkers, and passengers of ferries on Belfast Lough. Residents and walkers will have a higher sensitivity to change than the road users or ship passengers. Vehicle travellers will focus on traffic and not primarily on available views. Ship passengers will be unlikely to discern any visible difference to the majority of the path widening but may experience some minor effects from the construction of new walls and bridges.
5.5.7 The majority of residential properties in the immediate environment of the Proposed Development are located inland of the pathway. Residences include many individual properties with sea views including street-front properties in Bangor, Groomsport and Donaghadee.
5.5.8 The magnitude of visual effects on local residents and residential areas with views of the Proposed Development within 500m are considered to range from Low to Medium-High and with a significance/quality ranging between Slight/Neutral – Moderate/Adverse.
5.5.9 Views beyond approximately 1km and up to approximately 5km will concentrate mainly on the addition of more prominent features of the development such as new or extended sea walls and bridge crossings. As a result, the magnitude of visual effects will reduce to Low and their significance/quality to Slight/Neutral.
5.5.10 Beyond the 5km, visual effects, particularly from the northern coast along Belfast Lough, will reduce to Low and Negligible. The significance/quality of visual effects will be Imperceptible/Neutral and Not Significant/Neutral as the scale of development will not generate material changes to the visual amenity in the distance.
5.5.11 Views from the shipping channels in Belfast Lough will experience open views but at a distance between 2-4km from the Proposed Development, the magnitude of visual effects is considered Low, and its significance/quality is considered Slight/Neutral.
5.5.12 Overall, the growth of ivy on the post and rail boundary fence will provide a vegetative field boundary to soften the adverse effect of the fence line and screen views of the Proposed Development from Bangor Road to the north. There will still be residual landscape and visual effects from the loss of native hedgerow as the proposed ivy-covered fence line will have a more suburban character than was previously experienced in the rural setting.
5.5.13 The residual landscape effect will be reduced from significant adverse to a moderate adverse landscape effect.
5.5.14 The residual visual effect will also be reduced by the screening of views and the increased vegetation along the boundary, from significant adverse to a moderate adverse visual effect.
5.6 Noise and Vibration
5.6.1 Due to the linear nature of the construction, the duration of the activity at any property near to the construction works will be localised and relatively short. The impact will vary depending on the distance between the works and the near sited noise sensitive receptors.
5.6.2 The potential lorry movements to and from the Site during the construction phase have been assessed. It is predicted that there will be up to two movements per hour during the peak construction phase.
5.6.3 The most significant impact will occur at the most coastal locations, where the works will be closest to existing noise sensitive properties. It will therefore be necessary to ensure mitigation measures are provided to reduce the impact at the ‘worst case’ properties. However, it is noted that this ‘worst case’ impact will be limited in duration at any one location.
5.6.4 There is the potential for vibration impact during the construction phase due to piling activity. It is typical on a development of this scale, that a Construction Environmental Management Plan will need to be agreed with the Local Authority prior to commencement of works.
5.6.5 No significant noise or vibration impacts are envisaged during the operational phase of the Proposed Development.
5.7 Water Environment
5.7.1 Construction activities resulting in exposed ground and stockpiles of construction materials could result in suspended solids and chemical pollutants being introduced into watercourses if they are not properly controlled. Construction carried out close to watercourses risk pollution due to accidental spillage of liquids such as oils, bituminous coatings, preservatives and weed killers. Litter and Debris will, at best, only affect the appearance of the watercourse but could have more serious affect if the litter contains open oil containers.
5.7.2 Uncontrolled pollution has the potential to travel long distances through the impacted waterbodies and could potentially affect fish, aquatic flora, and invertebrate communities.
5.7.3 A Pollution Control and Contingency Plan shall form part of the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) to mitigate the risk of such impacts.
5.7.4 Once operational, the Proposed Development will have an increase in hard standing which will remove some areas of land which previously allowed surface water infiltration. Therefore, new hydrological pathways will be created for surface water to move. However, the overall effect is considered not significant.
5.8 Soils and Geology
5.8.1 During construction, the Proposed Development has potential sources of risk to the soils, geology, and hydrogeology from the temporary construction compounds and access points, ground excavation works, construction of new structures, and the construction of new paths.
5.8.2 Soils may be exposed in excavations and subjected to erosion by wind and rain which could deposit silt in streams impacting the water quality.
5.8.3 The use of plant and machinery during construction will require the storage and use of fuels and oils. Their storage presents potential for spills and leaks which could contaminate soils and groundwater.
5.8.4 To reduce or eliminate such impacts, an outline Construction Environmental Management Plan (oCEMP) has been prepared, which will be further developed and refined by the appointed Contractor. In this regard, the overall effects during construction are considered not significant.
5.8.5 During the operational phase, the key impacts to the soils and geology of the area would be from routine maintenance activities, however with appropriate mitigation, the effects are considered negligible.
5.9 Traffic and Transport
5.9.1 On each day of construction, there is expected to be a maximum of 10 staff working at each work front.
5.9.2 There is the potential for three work fronts to work concurrently, meaning the Proposed Development could generate up to 66 two-way vehicle movements each day. All 66 movements have the potential to travel along the A2 at some point of their journey however, they will travel to different access points and therefore 66 movements will not be experienced on all minor roads. The assessment has shown that the impacts on the A2 is considered negligible and therefore insignificant. The traffic on minor roads is also considered to be negligible.
5.9.3 A total of four abnormal loads will arrive to the Site during the construction phase. These are expected to travel from Belfast direction, along the A2. Therefore, suitable routes from Belfast have been identified, using A-class roads where possible.
5.9.4 When operational, any increase in trips along the Proposed Development will be from sustainable forms of travel, for example walking and cycling. The only vehicles on the route itself will be emergency and council maintenance vehicles, as and when required.
5.10 Population and Human Health
5.10.1 The assessment of potential impacts on population and human health considered the residual effects and conclusions identified in the following ES chapters: Air Quality and Climate; Noise and Vibration; Traffic and Transport; Soils and Geology; Water Environment; and Major Accidents and Disasters. The conclusions did not identify any significant adverse human health related effects.
5.10.2 Indeed, the proposed Greenway will improve physical and mental wellbeing for the wider community as an attractive recreational and leisure resource.
5.11 Coastal Processes
5.11.1 During construction, it is likely that some of the works will be conducted from the beaches and inter-tidal rock platforms. Any disturbance from these works will be localised and the magnitude considered negligible.
5.11.2 Construction of new erosion defences could change the coastal morphology beyond the stabilised shoreline. The Proposed Development does not include new areas of hard defences and therefore the impact is considered negligible. However, it is proposed that several existing hard defences will be extended and the impact to these areas is considered high. The Proposed Development also does not include any temporary works or permanent development that changes the hydrodynamics of the area. Therefore, the impact of these proposed changes is also considered negligible.
5.12 Material Assets and Waste
5.12.1 The construction phase of the development will require site clearance and levelling, set-up of construction temporary offices and compounds on existing hard standing, material delivery and storage, site excavation works, and hard and soft landscaping works.
5.12.2 At this stage, it is envisaged that the main sources of different wastes generated, will be topsoil and subsoil (clays and gravels) from the proposed path widening and new path works. This will generate approximately a significant volume of inert waste material over the entire length of the route. This will be removed by tipper lorries that will also deliver stone and surfacing material to the site.
5.12.3 Any additional surplus excavated material and other construction waste generated by the Proposed Development will consist of inert stone, subsoils and topsoil which will be suitable to be re-used on other construction projects.
5.12.4 There will be no disruption to existing material assets, for example overhead powerlines, or the Wastewater Treatment Works at Seahill and Bangor, during the construction phase. Moreover, there will no impacts to telecommunications during construction or the operation of the Proposed Development.
5.12.5 During operation, there will continue to be an increase in user numbers. The business case includes for additional bins, cleansing costs and staff resources to deal with litter, sand cleansing and maintenance of the greenway.
5.13 Major Accidents and Disasters
5.13.1 This assessment considers the substances present on Site, identifying those which are potentially dangerous, such as Construction materials, including cement and concrete. In the event of an accidental release, it can raise the pH if released to water. Ground maintenance including biocides and herbicides for example will be required as part of routine maintenance activities to ensure the Proposed Greenway remains attractive and respectful.
5.13.2 The potential impact of natural disasters including climate change effects, such as increased ambient temperature, rising river and sea levels, have been considered in detail within a separate chapter of the Environmental Statement.
5.13.3 The risk of a major accident or disaster from the Proposed Development is very low, as the Proposed Development will be designed and constructed by an experienced Contractor who shall adhere to all applicable Regulations and good practice in controlling potential hazards. The risk of disasters cannot be eliminated and are therefore managed via embedded mitigation measures and operating systems such as the Accident Prevention Plan and Emergency Response Procedures.
5.13.4 The potential impact of climate change effects, such as increased ambient temperatures, rising river and sea levels are considered in this assessment. All scenarios show a Neutral or Slight significance of Impact.
5.14 Cumulative Effects and Interactions
5.14.1 Other proposed developments that are also likely to be constructed and operated in the future, and that have the likelihood to generate cumulative environmental effects together with the Proposed Development, have been identified and presented in the Environmental Statement.
5.14.2 Through the consideration of the information available (at the time of assessment) it is concluded that there is no likelihood of any significant residual cumulative effects. However, impacts of temporary minor significance have been assessed for a number of the planning applications on cultural heritage.
5.14.3 The assessment has not identified any significant combined effects which would result in a different rating of effect to that already predicted in the individual technical assessments.