3. The Approach to the Assessment
This section outlines the approach to the assessment and then summarises the process undertaken to produce this SEA. It outlines the SEA process to date, including the screening and scoping, including a consideration of the relevant SEA topics scoped in for assessment. For each topic, assessment criteria are detailed. Applying the assessment criteria will enable the likely significant effects associated with the Scottish Government’s proposals for the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy to be identified, described and evaluated in relation to each of the environmental topic areas.
3.1 The SEA Process to Date
SEA has a number of distinct stages: screening, scoping, the environmental assessment, the production of an Environmental Report, consultation, the publication of a Post-Adoption Statement and monitoring. At screening, scoping and publication of the Environmental Report, contingent on the likely effects of the plan to be in Scotland, there is a requirement to consult with three statutory Consultation Authorities. These are Historic Environment Scotland (HES), NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Screening has been undertaken to confirm that the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy should be subject to SEA. Responses received from HES, NatureScot and SEPA concur with the conclusion, and indicatively that some topics (such as population and historic environment do not need to be considered in the assessment as there are unlikely to be significant environmental effects for these topics).
The scopingstage of SEA leads to the production of a Scoping Report. This sets out the proposed scope and approach to assessing the potential environmental effects. The SEA Scoping Report for the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy was issued for consultation for a five-week period concluding on 20th October 2021. Three responses to the consultation were received from the statutory consultees, which resulted in some amendments to the proposed approach to assessment (a schedule of consultation responses to the Scoping Report is contained at Appendix A).
The proposed introduction of measures as part of the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy has been subject to assessment using the amended approach. The findings of these assessments are presented in this SEA Environmental Report.
The introduction of a draft National Litter and Flytipping Strategy, including proposed measures, will be consulted on alongside the SEA Environmental Report. Following that consultation, the Scottish Government will review and analyse the responses received on this Environmental Report and the content of the consultation paper.
Following adoption of the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy, as soon as is reasonably practicable, the Scottish Government will publish a Post Adoption Statement (PAS). This Statement will reflect on the findings of the SEA and the views expressed in the consultation, and outline how the issues raised have been considered in the finalisation of the policy measures and actions. Scottish Government will monitor the implementation and environmental effects resulting from the introduction of measures in the updated National Litter and Flytipping strategy.
3.2 Scope of the assessment
The aim of the SEA is to identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant environmental effects of measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy.
The 2005 Act requires that the assessment includes information on the “likely significant effects on the environment, including on issues such as: biodiversity; population; human health; fauna; flora; soil; water; air; climatic factors; material assets; cultural heritage, including architectural and archaeological heritage; landscape; and the inter-relationship between the issues referred to”.
Consideration has been given to the relevant contextual information, together with the five-year review of the original National Litter Strategy and the 2021 Litter Summit hosted by Keep Scotland Beautiful (in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Government), to define the scope of the assessment.
3.2.2 Scoping Consultation
Consultation with the statutory consultees was undertaken on the proposed scope of the SEA for a 5-week period concluding 20th October 2021. Each statutory consultee was provided with the National Litter and Flytipping strategy SEA Screening and Scoping Report. Consultation responses were received from all three statutory consultees.
The consultees all welcomed the commission of the SEA for introducing new measures to prevent litter and flytipping in an updated National Litter and Flytipping strategy and provided comments on:
- the scope of the assessment and the corresponding topics to be included in the assessment;
- the proposed methodological approach to the assessment;
- clarifications regarding timescales for public consultation.
The full list of comments and responses are provided in Appendix A.
3.2.3 Current Scope
In Table 3-1, each of the 10 SEA topic areas is considered in isolation with a justification for whether each topic is scoped in or scoped out of this SEA. The overall rationale for scoping topics in, or out, has been derived from the Screening and Scoping Report and has been updated to reflect the consultation responses from the Consultative Authorities (as detailed in Appendix A).
Table 3-1 SEA topics scoping and justificationion / exclusion
SEA Topic: Biodiversity, flora and fauna
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: Litter and flytipping adversely affects biodiversity through entanglement of fauna, ingestion of litter, particularly plastics, and the exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos. The new strategy could have positive effects on biodiversity by reducing these problems.
SEA Topic: Population
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: No effects of litter and flytipping are anticipated on population (including demographics). Any effects on human health as discussed below.
SEA Topic: Human health
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: Litter and Flytipping has the potential to affect human health, for example through exposure to hazardous materials. Studies suggest that neighbourhood environmental incivilities such as flytipping and litter have a real and meaningful impact on people’s wellbeing and mental health. Litter also affects the amenity of recreational assets such as beaches. It can also become entangled in the gear of recreational vessels, or cause divers to become entangled: both have human health and safety implications.
The new strategy could have positive effects on human health by addressing these problems.
SEA Topic: Soil
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: The presence of litter and flytipping may have adverse impacts on the physical and chemical structure of land-based soil systems, however, it is considered that the effects on soil are closely associated to the related effects on plants and animals, including soil ecosystems, and the net effects are captured in other environmental topics, particularly biodiversity, and to some extent water, landscape and human health. Reference to the effects on soil are highlighted in the scoped-in topic sections where relevant.
The presence of litter and flytipping is not considered to result in significant morphological and/or physiological changes to seabed strata and/or bottom sediments.
SEA Topic: Water
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: Litter and flytipping affects water quality and the ecological/ environmental status of water. Effects on ecological/environmental status are covered under “biodiversity”. Effects on water quality, including bathing waters, are explored under the “water” topic.
SEA Topic: Air
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: No effects of litter and flytipping are anticipated on air quality. For instance, the envisaged delivery measures do not include incineration.
SEA Topic: Climatic factors
Litter and flytipping contribute to climate change in two main ways. The requirement to extract and transport raw materials results in additional carbon emissions, instead of using the resources and embodied carbon held in litter and flytipped materials. As well as the embodied energy of the resource itself being wasted, further carbon emissions are released during the collection and processing of litter or flytipped material, most of which can then only be sent to energy from waste or landfill, due to the poor quality of the material.
SEA Topic: Material assets
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: Litter and flytipping affects economic operations in the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments, through fouling of equipment and delays for clean-up operations. It may also affect sectors which depend on environmental quality as the basis for their activities, e.g. recreation. The requirement for disposal of low quality waste streams in litter and flytipping also increases pressure on landfill sites.
SEA Topic: Cultural heritage and the historic environment
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: No effects of litter and flytipping are anticipated on heritage assets. The potential improvement in the amenity of heritage assets is included in “landscape and visual impacts and human health”. This view was corroborated by HES during scoping.
SEA Topic: Landscape and visual impacts
Reasons for inclusion / exclusion: Litter and flytipping affects the tranquillity and amenity of landscapes and seascapes. The SEA has focused on the potential effects on nationally important landscapes, given the high-level nature of the strategies.
In summary, pursuant to the consideration of the introduction of a new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy and the associated likely significant environmental effects, the following topic areas have been scoped into this SEA: biodiversity, flora and fauna; human health; water; climatic factors; material assets; and landscape and visual impacts. Furthermore, the assessment has considered the cumulative, secondary and synergistic effects from the introduction of new measures to prevent litter and flytipping which are summarised in the cumulative effects section (Section 10).
3.3 Context of the Assessment
3.3.1 Review of Plans and Programmes
The 2005 Act requires a report containing “an outline of the contents, main objectives of the plan or programme and relationship with other relevant plans and programmes” (Schedule 3(1)) as well as “The environmental protection objectives, established at international (European) Community or Member State level, which are relevant to the plan or programme and the way those objectives and any environmental considerations have been taken into account during its preparation” (Schedule 3(5)).
A fundamental initial step in undertaking the SEA is to identify and review other relevant plans, programmes and strategies (PPS) which could influence the proposed strategy. These may be PPS at an international/European, national, regional or local level, commensurate with the scope of introducing new measures to prevent litter and flytipping. The review aims to identify relationships between the implementation of measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy and the other PPS i.e. how measures proposed to prevent litter and flytipping could be affected by the aims, objectives and/or targets of other plans and programmes or how the new strategy could contribute to the achievement of the environmental and sustainability objectives of other PPS. Furthermore, the review of other PPS is also a useful source of information to support the completion of the environmental baseline analysis used to determine the key concerns relevant to the introduction of new measures to prevent litter and flytipping.
For each of the topic areas scoped into this SEA (and the ensuing topic sections), the SEA provides a review and summary of PPS relevant to the introduction of measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy.
With regard to the review of international PPS, it is noted that EU law has ceased to apply in the UK under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and EU Treaties. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA) has established a new body of domestic law known as retained EU law. Any references to EU Directives in this report should be read as references to the domestic legislation that implemented the Directive (including that domestic legislation as it is revised or replaced from time to time).
3.3.2 Review of Environmental Baseline
The 2005 Act requires a report containing “The relevant aspects of the current state of the environment and the likely evolution thereof without implementation of the plan or programme” (Schedule 3(2)), “The environmental characteristics of areas likely to be significantly affected” (Schedule 3(3)), and “Any existing environmental problems which are relevant to the plan or programme including, in particular, those relating to any areas of a particular environmental importance, such as areas designated pursuant to Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds and Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna (as last amended by Council Directive 97/62/EC)” (Schedule 3(4)).
In each SEA topic section outlined in this report, an environmental baseline is provided of the existing receptors which will be impacted by the introduction of measures proposed to prevent litter and flytipping. Where possible, the environmental baseline provides information on some of the metrics relevant to the measures proposed to prevent litter and flytipping, such as the quantities and composition of litter and flytipped materials, and areas impacted by litter or incidents of flytipping (see Table 3-2).
Table 3-2 Environmental baseline metrics
|Plastic bottles/film/other plastic packaging
|Newspapers & magazines/other paper
|Other combustible items
|Metal cans/other metal
|Litter free areas
|16% of sites audited (compared to 31% of sites audited in 2013)
8.1% in more urbanised authority areas 24.3% in more rural authority areas
|General household waste
|Other (not specified)
|48,250 incidents reported by local authorities (compared to 38,513 incidents in 2014)*
*Noting there are limitations in using the values provided to interpret a trend in levels of flytipping. See Section 8 Material Assets, Figure 8-2 regarding caveats on values reported.
Although the metrics highlight the need for more up to date information on material quantities and composition, the environmental baseline information is taken to represent the current situation, against which the introduction of measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy may be assessed to determine positive or negative impacts. The Scottish Government is in the process of commissioning further studies to evaluate the current quantity and composition of litter and flytipped materials in Scotland.
3.4 Significant Environmental Effects
The assessment considers significant effects associated with the introduction of actions proposed under the four strategy themes in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy in relation to each of the six SEA topics identified (Sections 4.2 to 9.2).
The assessment criteria have therefore been developed to ensure that the SEA focuses on the significant environmental impacts relevant to each scoped in topic area.
The criteria are presented in Table 3-3 below.
Table 3-3 SEA Assessment Criteria
SEA Topic: Biodiversity, flora and fauna
- To safeguard terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions
- To avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments
- To maintain or work towards good ecological and environmental status
SEA Topic: Human health
- To safeguard the amenity of recreational assets
- To safeguard human health
SEA Topic: Water
- To safeguard water quality, including bathing waters
SEA Topic: Climatic factors
- To prevent any increase in net carbon impacts and to contribute to Scotland’s journey to meet the 2045 net zero commitment.
SEA Topic: Material assets
- To maintain the environmental quality which supports economic activities
- To prevent increased pressure on material assets such as landfill sites
SEA Topic: Landscape and visual impacts
- To protect and, where appropriate, enhance the landscape/seascape
An assessment is also included with respect to the compatibility of the higher level aims and objectives for each strategy theme with the SEA topics (Section 10.1).
3.5 Undertaking the Assessment
The activities associated with implementing measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy have been analysed to identify and evaluate (where applicable) the likely significant effects that could arise. The following key considerations have been used to inform the assessment:
- consultation with the consultative authorities (SEPA, NatureScot and Historic Environment Scotland) and other relevant stakeholders;
- all relevant contextual information including a review of associated PPS, the regulatory framework and the environmental baseline;
- the nature of the potential effect (what is expected to happen);
- the timing and duration of the potential effect (e.g. short, medium or long term);
- the geographic scale of the potential effect (e.g. local, regional, national);
- the location of the potential effect (e.g. whether it affects rural or urban communities);
- the potential effect on vulnerable communities or sensitive habitats (e.g. terrestrial or marine);
- the reasons for whether the effect is considered significant;
- the reasons for any uncertainty, where this is identified; and
- the potential to avoid, minimise, reduce, mitigate or compensate for the identified effect(s) with evidence (where applicable).
Where the baseline data has been slight, uncertain or incomprehensive, the best available information together with professional assumptions and judgement has been utilised to assess the anticipated significant effects of introducing new measures proposed to prevent litter and flytipping.
3.6 Assessment of Secondary, Cumulative and Synergistic Effects
Schedule 3 (6) (e) of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires that the “secondary, cumulative and synergistic effects” of introducing measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy are assessed. Using the assessment framework approach detailed in Table 3-3, the cumulative effects assessment will present a summary of all the effects associated with the measures proposed in the new strategy, together with the in-combination effects with other plans and programmes.
In terms of the overall assessment of the cumulative effects, it should be noted that assessing the impact of measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy is challenging due to limitations on data available on levels of littering and flytipping in Scotland (in common with some other countries) and recognition of the high level nature of the measures proposed in the strategy. The resulting high-level commentary reflects these limitations.
3.7 Mitigation and Monitoring Proposals
The identification of effective mitigation measures is a fundamental element of the SEA process and, where significant adverse effects have been identified, appropriate mitigation measures have been proposed. The aim of such mitigation measures is to improve the effectiveness and reach of the measures proposed to prevent litter and flytipping.
Putting appropriate measures in place, such as those specified within the relevant sections, may assist in optimising carbon savings and realising greater reductions in litter and flytipping. Mitigation and enhancement measures have been identified for each of the topic areas scoped into the assessment where appropriate. In some instances, mitigation measures are also proposed for minor negative effects, with corresponding enhancement measures also recommended where appropriate. In order to ensure that the aims and objectives of the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy are realised, proposals for the development of a monitoring protocol have been recommended in Section 11.2. It is also anticipated that further information on the development of monitoring protocols associated with the proposed measures to prevent litter and flytipping will be set out in the Post Adoption Statement.
3.8 Summary and Overview of Difficulties Encountered
This SEA has focussed on the overall assessment of the introduction of measures proposed in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy. The environmental assessment centres on comparing the anticipated effects, both positive and negative, against the existing baseline which is a continuation of the existing National Litter and Flytipping strategy.
The information used in the Environmental Report has been sourced, so far as is possible, from recent datasets utilising a wide range of authoritative and official sources. It is important to acknowledge that there are variable time lags between raw data collection and its publication. Consequently, at the time of this report’s publication, the baseline or predicted future trends may have varied from those described for each environmental topic.
The main difficulties encountered in undertaking this environmental assessment are summarised below:
- Data limitations: The availability of recent and accurate data on litter and flytipping levels for Scotland has been limited. Values for litter and flytipping reported by Zero Waste Scotland in 2013 are widely reported in reference sources, which have been used to inform the review of baseline characteristics. However, is noted that the 2013 report identifies some issues with the accuracy of reporting levels of flytipping. This is partly due to the variation in size and composition of flytipping incidents and the ability to accurately reflect the actual tonnages of illegally dumped material, and also because it is recognised that not all incidents of flytipping may be reported, particularly incidents occurring on private land. Where the baseline data has been limited, inconclusive or conflicting, the best available information together with professional assumptions and judgement has been utilised to assess the anticipated effects for each environmental topic.
- Evidence base: The availability of evidence to determine baseline characteristics against which to assess proposals in the strategy is limited in some instances, both in terms of quantitative and qualitative information. Where this has influenced the assessment of effects on the environment for the strategy proposals, this has been reflected by an indication of uncertainty regarding the scoring in the assessment, with additional explanation included in the commentary.
- COVID-19: The data gathered to complete this baseline pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic and its environmental, social and economic effects. Data that relates to these changes is only becoming available periodically and it may well be a number of years before the effects of the crisis can be determined, along with whether changes to the topics covered in the baseline have been short-term or sustained. This is an additional uncertainty within the assessment, and where relevant, some qualitative commentary may be provided.
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