Mountainous areas


The case study: Pyrenees

This case study is intended to analyse the transport related sensitive areas regarding both mountainous context and also high biodiversity richness areas. The chosen scope of study will cover the Pyrenean region, which marks the border between France and Spain and is considered one of Europeís richest enclaves from an environmental point of view.

Traffic across the Pyrenees, which provide the only terrestrial link between Spain and Portugal and the rest of Europe, has traditionally been a central issue in Europeís transport policy discussions. Such interest has recently been heightened by a number of circumstances such as:

  1. The exchange of goods between the Iberian Peninsula and the other European Union countries has risen considerably since the former's accession to the Union, almost doubling between 1989 and 2002. This increase in the volume of goods exchanges has led to a large number of heavy vehicles crossing the Pyrenees every day, since 56% of goods are conveyed via overland transport, of which 95% by road.
  2. Overland links between Spain and the rest of Europe are limited to the existing passes through the natural barrier presented by the Pyrenees. Both in the case of roads and railways we find that currently existing high-capacity infrastructures are exclusively located at either end of the border (Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts) owing to the high altitude of the mountain range in the central part of the Pyrenees.
  3. Spainís peripheral status within the European Union, which has been intensified since the accession of 10 new Eastern European countries to EU. The enlargement of the EU makes it foreseeable that, on the one hand, trade relations between these countries and Spain will increase, and on the other hand, that Spain will need to improve its links with the rest of Europe in order to boost its competitiveness, promote its socio-economic development and reduce the periphery effect.
  4. The interest shown by the European Union in improving communication links across the Pyrenees. The European Commission, in its white paper on the common transport policy, pointed to trans-Pyrenean communications as a possible priority for the future, including them in the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). However, there is a concern for the effects of road transport on an outstanding environmental area, both at the construction stage and during operation and maintenance.
The case study will identify potential future scenarios regarding transport, including construction of new road and/or rail infrastructure already proposed. For these alternatives policy measured as recommended by WP4 will be analysed. An assessment of the potential future scenarios considered and the selected policy instruments will be carried out in relation to the specifications of sensitiveness and the geographical impacts such as atmospheric pollution, noise and land use, among others. Potential economic impacts will also be taken into account when relevant.