3. Integration of environmental, social and economic considerations in developing the work programme
3.1.1 This section explains how key environmental, social and economic considerations were identified and how these were taken into account in developing the iterative work programme.
3.2. Appraisal process
3.2.1 A series of SA objectives and supporting criteria were developed and these were used to appraise options for PDR. The objectives were developed taking into account national environmental, social and economic objectives relevant to each of the appraisal topics. The Scottish Government also established a Virtual Review Group (VRG) consisting of key stakeholders with knowledge and expertise on the different development types. The VRG were involved from Scoping stage through to informing the appraisal.
3.2.2 The SA identified the likely significant positive and negative environmental, social and economic effects, as well as whether effects would be temporary or permanent, and whether they would arise in the short, medium or long term.
3.2.3 The SA also made recommendations on measures to address any significant adverse effects identified as part of the appraisal.
3.3. Conclusions and recommendations of the assessment
3.3.1 Digital communications infrastructure The SA has identified significant positive effects in relation to the economy and population and human health. This reflects the support for network improvements which are important to Scotland’s digital economy. Key areas of potential but reversible significant negative effects include cultural heritage, particularly from development affecting sites designated for their cultural heritage importance, and potential landscape impacts from new or enlarged masts.
3.3.2 Town Centre changes of use The SA identified significant positive economic effects in relation to changes allowing town centres to respond to changing eating, shopping and working patterns. Significant positive cumulative effects are also noted in relation to climatic factors, reflecting the reduced need to travel, and population and human health through providing local services and facilities in an accessible location. There is the potential for negative effects including ‘bad neighbour’ effects and poor diet associated with an increased number of take-away restaurants. Mixed significant effects could occur for cultural heritage reflecting the positive role of keeping historic buildings in use, but the potential impacts from physical changes to buildings.
3.3.3 Agricultural developments The majority of potential PDR changes are identified as having a significant positive effect on supporting the rural economy. Potential significant negative effects are identified in terms of cultural heritage and potential landscape impacts from larger scale developments, and potential impacts on flood risk from increased run-off.
3.3.4 Micro-renewables (domestic and non-domestic) Changes were identified as having significant minor positive long term effects on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through use of low carbon energy sources, and supporting climate change adaptation through resilience of the energy supply network. Changes could give rise to significant positive cumulative effects by improving the efficiency of the planning system, removing the requirement to apply for planning permission for a wide range of domestic and non-domestic renewables.
3.3.5 Non-domestic solar energy The potential for significant negative effects on the safe operation of aerodromes and technical sites was identified in circumstances where there are cumulative effects from glint and glare from several solar developments in the same area.
3.3.6 District heating and supporting infrastructure Potential significant negative effects were identified in terms of cultural heritage.
3.3.7 Energy storage (non-domestic) Significant but reversible negative effects were identified in terms of cultural heritage and landscape.
3.3.8 Habitat pond creation Introducing PDR for the creation of ponds for wildlife purposes could have significant positive permanent effects on biodiversity, flora and fauna.
3.3.9 Peatland restoration Potential significant permanent positive effects were identified in terms of biodiversity, the water environment, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, climate adaptation, soils and the landscape.
3.3.10 Allotments and community gardens Developments which support activities on these sites include change of use of land, fencing, buildings, access and water. Introducing PDR to cover these development types was considered to have significant long term positive effects in terms of social, population and human health.
3.3.11 Householder developments There are mixed minor effects across most PDR changes and minor positive effects on population and human health where PDR allow people to improve their living environment, although there could also be negative effects from impacts on the amenity of neighbouring properties. Significant positive effects are also identified in relation to the efficient operation of the planning system reflecting the potential number of planning applications avoided. Significant negative effects are identified on cultural heritage, arising from the changes across all types of development.
3.3.12 Electric vehicle charging Significant negative effects are identified on cultural heritage although these effects are reversible. Significant positive effects are identified in relation to climate change and air quality from indirect support for reducing vehicle emissions.
3.3.13 No significant positive or negative effects are identified for the options to expand PDR relevant to snow sports, defibrillator cabinets, energy storage (domestic), or development relating to active travel.
3.3.14 Possible cumulative and synergistic effects between all of the development types included in the Proposed Work Programme were also assessed. Several potential changes to PDR were identified as having the potential for significant negative impacts on biodiversity, flora and fauna. PDR for wildlife ponds and peatland restoration could result in potential significant net positive effects for this topic. A number of potential changes will act together to support policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to support adaptation to a changing climate, which combine to give a significant positive effect. Similarly, several potential changes will assist in improving air quality.
3.3.15 A number of potential PDR changes relate to changes in the size and scale of development types that could significantly increase flood risk. Several potential changes to PDR could have potential significant negative impacts on cultural heritage, with several having particular potential to affect Conservation Areas and undesignated historic townscapes, although this could be mitigated by restricting PDR in these areas. Significant positive effects are identified from options which support the rural and urban economy. Several potential changes to PDR will combine to provide benefits in terms of population, living environment and health. Several options could combine to have potentially significant negative cumulative impacts on safety at aerodrome or technical sites, however this can be mitigated either through appropriate restrictions on PDR in the vicinity of these sites, or alternatively through a more detailed evidence base to inform any future proposals in this respect.
3.3.16 The above findings and comments received as part of the SA consultation were taken in account when finalising the work programme and have informed, and will continue to inform, the development of detailed proposals for individual development types.
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