Decommissioning is the final stage in the life cycle of transport infrastructure. It is important to point out that just a few transport infrastructure will reach this stage in its foreseeable future, because most transport infrastructure is continuously maintained or upgraded. Nevertheless decarbonisation goals with deployment of renewable energies will change paradigms and some infrastructure such as pipelines for oil transportation, could no longer be required.
When radical changes in social and economic activities on a whole-territory scale occur, any transport infrastructure can lose its importance and could be removed. In such cases infrastructure must be decommissioned and the land restored. or other change on land use may be considered, e.g. the conversion of an old railway track into a cycle or pedestrian path.
Key issues to be addressed
This phase as all the precedent ones, must apply the general mitigation hierarchy approach and take into consideration measures to avoid, reduce and compensate impacts on biodiversity. Main issues to be addressed when decommissioning are:
- Opportunities to benefit biodiversity and for climate change adaptation must be carefully analysed when designing any demolition and restoration plan.
- Appropriate infrastructure demolition method must be selected, including waste reuse, recycle or appropriate disposal.
- Mitigation measures must be applied during demolition works to reduce wildlife mortality and habitat fragmentation in the event of a change in infrastructure purpose and use.
- Habitat restoration must be designed and undertaken at the construction site, selecting the most suitable habitats to be restored according to landscape conditions and avoiding spreading Invasive Alien Species. This is often a threat at the demolition site and an appropriate habitat restoration plan is needed. This plan should ensure creation of suitable conditions for the formation of new habitats for threatened species and natural habitats in the area of the original infrastructure.
Processes and tools
- Demolition plan – determining the demolition procedure with respect to the species and habitats in the surroundings and defining methods of waste reuse, recycle or disposal.
- Environmental impact assessment (EIA, in special case AA) in case is required because of the change in the use of the infrastructure.
Habitat restoration plan – defining all conditions for new habitats to be created which allow to restore high ecological value habitats and considering to compensate habitats lost due to the construction new infrastructure in the vicinity. All habitats should be replaced to an appropriate extent and quality.