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Scotland's Zero Waste Plan: Consultation

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Annex - S - Partial Habitat Impact Assessment (Habitats Regulations Appraisal)

Background - Scotland's Zero Waste Plan

1. Scotland's Zero Waste Plan outlines how Scotland could prevent and reduce the amount of all waste arising, increase the amount recycled and composted and decrease the amount being sent to landfill.

2. To meet the targets and objectives in the Plan, significant waste infrastructure is required, including increased collection, sorting and treatment plants, such as composting, anaerobic digestion and energy from waste. However, the Plan will also result in a reduction in the amount of waste arising (and therefore requiring management) and the amount of waste going to landfill.

3. Scotland's Zero Waste Plan is a strategic document that does not provide specific development proposals or spatial planning and therefore the actual habitat impacts are difficult to assess on a national or local level.

Background - Habitats legislation

4. The EU Habitat Directive (92/43/EEC) lays down in Article 6: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:1992L0043:20070101:EN:PDF

"any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to appropriate assessment of its implications for the site in view of the site's conservation objectives...the competent national authorities shall agree to the plan or project only after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned and, if appropriate, after having obtained the opinion of the general public" .

5. This was transposed to Scottish Law through the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & C.) Regulations 1994, as amended in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

6. Regulation 48 provides screening tests to identify whether the Appropriate Assessment is required:

"A competent authority, before deciding to undertake or give any consent, permission or other authorisation for, a plan or project which

a) is likely to have a significant effect on a European site in Great Britain (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), and

b) is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site, shall make an appropriate assessment of the implications for the site in view of that site's conservation objectives."

7. Additionally, the need for appropriate assessment extends to plans or projects outwith the boundary of the site in order to determine their implications for the interest(s) protected within the site.

Background - Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna in Scotland

8. The protection of biodiversity, flora and fauna is managed through the designation of particular areas in Scotland. Sites classified as Special Protection Areas ( SPA) under the Birds Directive and designated as Special Areas of Conservation ( SAC) under the Habitats Directive form an EU-wide network of protected areas known as Natura 2000. Appraisal under regulation 48 is concerned exclusively with impacts on the qualifying interests of Natura sites.

9. SPAs, which are designated under the Wild Birds Directive for wild birds and their habitats, represent the most valuable sites for specific species and are therefore of great importance in an international context. At 31 March 2008, there are 144 sites in Scotland classified as SPAs, covering a total area of approximately 641,000 hectares. In addition there are 3 SPAs which have been subsumed into larger sites since their initial classification.

10. SACs are areas designated under the Habitats Directive.

11. Full details of all Scottish SPAs and SACs, including a link to the list of species relevant to Natura designations in Scotland, can be found at the following websites: http://www.snh.org.uk/about/directives/ab-dir01.asp and http://www.jncc.gov.uk/page-1461

Screening: Potential Habitat Impacts resulting from Scotland's Zero Waste Plan

12. The Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA): Environmental Report consultation being run in parallel to Scotland's Zero Waste Plan consultation, indicates that there would be no significant national cumulative effects on biodiversity, flora and fauna as a result of Scotland's Zero Waste Plan. However, there may be risks of local effects around new facilities required to meet Scotland's Zero Waste Plan objectives and targets.

13. Local negative effects could include:

  • Increased Energy from Waste can produce increased emissions to air (Carbon, Sulphur and Nitrogen dioxides). (However, energy from waste plants are now subject to tight regulation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, in line with EU requirements).
  • Increased collection and movement of waste can produce increased traffic emissions.
  • Increased waste treatment facilities, such as composting and anaerobic digestion can produce increased aquatic pollution from run-off.
  • Increased application of waste or composts to land can result in local changes to soil conditions and aquatic pollution from run off.

14. Local positive effects could include:

  • Reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill and the environmental impacts associated with landfills.
  • Reduction in the amount of waste arising and therefore requiring management.
  • Opportunity during development to provide "wildlife corridors" between protected areas.
  • Increased application of compost can improve soil condition, combat flooding and reduce erosion.

15. As a result of the strategic and non spatial nature of Scotland's Zero Waste Plan the monitoring of its impact on a national level may not be required but is essential at a local authority level.

16. Local monitoring will be achieved through the statutory Strategic Environment Assessment ( SEA) and Appropriate Habitat Assessment on Local and Strategic Development Plans. The recently closed Scottish Planning Policy Consolidation Consultation stated that:

"98. Any development plan or development proposal which is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura site and is not directly connected with or necessary to the conservation management of that site must be subject to an appropriate assessment by the planning authority of the implications for the site's conservation objectives. "

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/04/01132105/4

17. Developers proposing waste management plants may also carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment ( EIA). However, the requirement for an EIA on waste management facilities is a decision made by local Planning Authorities and in some cases a full EIA may not be carried out. In addition, some waste management facilities may not have a requirement to carry out an EIA.

18. The Waste Management Licensing 1 and Pollution Prevention Control regulatory systems, with which waste management operations must comply, provide a strict regulated regime on the outputs from developments that could have a negative impact on the environment.

Conclusion

19. The main impacts to habitats that may result from the implementation of Scotland's Zero Waste Plan include air emissions, water pollution and traffic emissions. Additionally, general disturbance impacts may have an affect if the protected habitats/species are sensitive to light, noise or human disturbance.

20. However, due to the high level and non spatial nature of Scotland's Zero Waste Plan the Plan itself will not have an actual impact. Therefore, the Government believe that an Appropriate Habitats Assessment of this Plan is not required.

21. The Government considers that Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Habitats Assessment of development plans; Environmental Impact Assessments on specific facilities and the Waste Management Licensing and Pollution, Prevention and Control regulatory regimes for waste management will provide the framework for assessing the local habitat impacts associated with local implementation of Scotland's Zero Waste Plan targets and objectives.

The Scottish Government
August 2009