Local air quality management: policy guidance

Guidance to help local authorities with their local air quality management (LAQM) duties under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995.

8. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

When developing an action plan or air quality strategy, local authorities have to consider whether the plan or strategy fall within the scope of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 and therefore whether a SEA is required. An important means to gauge if an SEA of an action plan or air quality strategy will be required, is to consider the likely environmental effects of the plan or strategy once implemented and whether this is likely to be significant. Further guidance is available on the Scottish Government’s website Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) - Environmental assessment - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

As a simple guide, local authorities can take the following into consideration:

  • Will the plan or strategy include policies which are likely to influence local decision making, such as a local development plan. For example, will the action plan or air quality strategy constrain or exclude certain types of projects in certain locations. If this is the case and effects are significant, an SEA may be required.
  • Does the plan or strategy only set out specific air quality measures such as traffic management schemes, parking controls and so on, and there is no intention of including conditions to influence planning or development. If so, it is more unlikely that it would require an SEA.

It is important to remember that in each scenario, if the local authority judges that the environmental effects of implementing the action plan or air quality strategy are likely to be greater than minimum, a screening request has to be submitted to the Consultation Authorities (Scottish Natural Heritage (now NatureScot), SEPA and Historic Environment Scotland) identified in the 2005 Act. This can be done via the SEA Gateway (details provided above). It is also important to note that the SEA process must be carried out during preparation of an action plan or air quality strategy, beginning at an early stage prior to any public consultation, and the findings can, if necessary, be taken into account when the plan or strategy is being finalised.


Email: andrew.taylor2@gov.scot

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