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Information about the sustainability appraisal, strategic environmental assessment, what is the process, what a habitats regulation assessment is and has anything been prepared.
What is a Sustainability Appraisal (SA)?
To ensure that policies and proposals in the East Riding Local Plan contribute to sustainable development, each document produced will be subject to a Sustainability Appraisal (SA).
This is because a key requirement of the Local Plan is that it contributes to the aims of Sustainable Development. The government defines Sustainable Development as:
What is a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)?
A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is necessary under the requirements of the EU Directive on SEA. The role of SEA is to assess the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment.
In England, the SEA can be carried out as part of a Sustainability Appraisal and this is usually the case for the Development Plan Documents prepared in the East Riding.
What is the SA/SEA process?
The SA/SEA process for Development Plan Documents (documents produced as part of the Local Plan) involves a number of stages which can be summarised as follows:
Setting out current information about the East Riding as it is today and developing 'sustainability objectives' which the Local Plan should work towards in order to achieve sustainable development
Identifying key issues affecting sustainable development in the East Riding
Testing the plans and policies in the Local Plan document under preparation against the sustainability objectives, in order to determine how they contribute to sustainable development
Using the results from 3) above, suggest and incorporate changes to the Local Plan document to ensure that it meets the sustainability objectives
Once the document has been adopted, its effect on sustainable development must be monitored.
What is a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA)?
In the UK, the European Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC) requires local (or competent) authorities to assess the impact of local plans on the Natura 2000 network of protected sites. The Directive is given domestic effect by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (the Habitats Regulations) which requires the assessment of effects on European sites (comprising Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar sites). In England, this requirement is implemented via a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) which comprises a series of mandatory tests.
The stages of HRA are:
Stage 1 – Screening: To test whether a plan or project either alone or in combination with other plans and projects is likely to have a significant effect on an international site;
Stage 2 – Appropriate Assessment: To determine whether, in view of an international site’s conservation objectives, the plan (either alone or in combination with other projects and plans) would have an adverse effect (or risk of this) on the integrity of the site with respect to the site structure, function and conservation objectives. If adverse impacts are anticipated, potential mitigation measures to alleviate impacts should be proposed and assessed;
Stage 3 – Assessment of alternative solutions: Where a plan is assessed as having an adverse impact (or risk of this) on the integrity of an international site, there should be an examination of alternatives (e.g. alternative locations and designs of development); and
Stage 4 – Assessment where no alternative solutions remain and where adverse impacts remain: In exceptional circumstance (e.g. where there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest), compensatory measures to be put in place to offset negative impacts.
Have any SA/SEA or Habitats Regulations Assessments been prepared for the East Riding?
The Council prepared its first Local Plan SA Scoping reports between 2006 and 2010. Separate reports were prepared for each Local Plan Document i.e. the Strategy Document, the Allocations Document and the Bridlington Town Centre Area Action Plan. The revised scoping report updates these documents and creates a single set of SA objectives for the whole East Riding Local Plan. The scoping report will be used to carry out SA of, and inform all future reviews of the East Riding Local Plan, except the joint minerals and waste plans. It includes:
A review of relevant plans, programmes and policies;
Baseline information about the East Riding;
Identification of key issues and problems that can be affected by planning policies; and
A sustainability appraisal framework, including:
SA indicators; and
Options/policy assessment matrixes.