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ASSET (ASsessing SEnsitiveness to Transport) is a new EC funded project which aims to develop the scientific and methodological capabilities to implement European policies aiming at balancing the protection of environmentally Sensitive Areas (SA) with the provision of an efficient transport system. Although the concept of sensitive areas has been repeatedly evoked in the context of EU transport policies, there is to date no scientific and no political agreement on a definition, nor is there an agreed approach to address the specific concerns associated to transport related SA (TSA).

Therefore, the first part of the project will provide a set of sensitiveness criteria to identify TSA and apply these in a mapping of TSAs across the EU, allowing for the identification and prioritisation of critical sustainability issues geared to the development of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). The second part of the project concentrates on analysing policy instruments with regard to their applicability to different categories of TSA and the identification of adequate policy packages with a focus on market-based instruments. The proposed methodology and the policy instruments will be assessed in detail in 10 case studies covering (i) mountainous areas, (ii) urban/metropolitan areas, (iii) natural/protected areas, and (iv) coastal areas, as well as different modes, types of traffic and geographical situations. Finally, policy and operational guidelines for TSA will be developed, notably building on the cross site evaluation of the case studies.

The project involves a consortium of 11 partners in 9 countries, thus covering all relevant disciplines (natural scientists, economists, transport policy, social policy experts) and a wide geographical scope in Europe.