Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
In Scotland, public bodies and private companies operating in a public character, such as utility companies, are required to assess, consult on, and monitor the likely impacts their plans, programmes and strategies will have on the environment. This process is known as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
SEA helps to better protect the environment, aims to ensure that any development is sustainable, and increases opportunities for public participation in decision-making. It ensures that expert views are sought at various points in the preparation process from the public and the consultation authorities, who are as follows:
- NatureScot – read about NatureScot's role in SEA
- Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) – read about SEPA's role in SEA
- Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – read about HES's role in SEA
SEA Gateway and database
The SEA Gateway was established to manage the statutory correspondence between the authorities responsible for preparing a plan, programme or strategy [known as the Responsible Authority] and the Consultation Authorities (SEPA, NatureScot and HES) as required by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. The information received is then recorded and made publicly available on the SEA Database.
As well as providing the SEA Database, the Gateway also looks after Scottish Ministers' interests in SEA, produces SEA guidance, and resolves potential areas of conflict between the Responsible Authority and the Consultation Authorities.
Any enquiries can emailed to the Gateway team at SEA_Gateway@gov.scot.
We have published the following guidance for SEA:
The latest Local Development Planning Guidance sets out how SEA can be aligned with the preparation of the local development plan.
The SEA: integrating an ecosystems approach information note provides advice on how to integrate an ecosystems approach into an SEA.
The consultation authorities have published guidance on specific topics, as follows:
- Guidance on consideration of air in SEA (from SEPA)
- Guidance on consideration of soil in SEA (from SEPA)
- Guidance on consideration of water in SEA (from SEPA)
- Consideration of climatic factors within SEA (from SEPA)
- Landscape considerations in SEA (from SNH)
- Biodiversity and geodiversity considerations in SEA (from SNH)
- Guidance on consideration of material assets in SEA (from SEPA)
- Guidance on consideration of human health in SEA (from SEPA)
Guiding principles on the environment
Section 15 of the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021 places a duty on Responsible Authorities to have due regard to the guiding principles on the environment when doing anything which requires an environmental assessment under Section 1 of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.
For both public authorities and Ministers, the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process will allow consideration of the guiding principles in line with the duties. This will ensure that the guiding principles are considered alongside other environmental factors, without additional administrative workload. Read annex a of the guiding principles guidance for more information on recording compliance with the duties through SEA.