UNESCO requires the outstanding universal value of any World Heritage Site is protected from developments deemed potentially harmful.
This World Heritage Site is defined as The Forth Bridge, which carries the mainline East Coast railway for 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometres) across the Firth of Forth between Fife on the north bank and Edinburgh and the Lothians to the south. The Site boundaries are defined by the single original contract that was let for the construction of the masonry and steel elements of the Bridge, and are represented in the original contract drawings.
The proposed World Heritage Site does not therefore extend beyond the Bridge itself because it is only for this single structure that outstanding universal value could be fully demonstrated. It is, however, contained at each end by existing Conservation Areas, and its immediate surroundings are therefore protected and managed by well-established designation and planning controls.
A key factor when considering the protection of World Heritage Sites is their setting. In the case of the Forth Bridge, the potential impact on its outstanding universal value of developments close to or in adjacent areas around the Firth of Forth has been subject to rigorous study using computer-generated “viewshed” analysis and physical investigation of as many viewpoints as possible.
This work concluded the immense scale and dominant presence of the bridge is such that there was no need for a separate area of protection or ‘Buffer Zone’, and the most important neighbouring structures associated with earlier crossings of the Forth were already adequately protected through listing, conservation area and designed-landscape designations.