Felling and restocking regulations: strategic environmental assessment

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) to accompany the consultation on the regulation of felling and restocking in 2018.

5 The approach to the assessment

5.1 The SEA process to date

5.1.1 SEA consists of several distinct stages: screening, scoping, the environmental assessment and the production of an Environmental Report, and the publication of a Post-Adoption Statement. At each stage, there is a requirement to consult the statutory Consultation Authorities. These are Historic Environment Scotland ( HES), Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA). The present SEA process began with the production of a Scoping Report submitted via the SEA Gateway to the consultation authorities in April 2018. This set out initial information on the likelihood of significant effects arising from the Regulations. It also provided an initial view on the proposed evidence base that would be used to inform the assessment. The representations of the Consultation Authorities ( Appendix E) to the Scoping stage have helped to inform the content of the draft Regulations and the SEA process.

5.2 Approach to the assessment

5.2.1 This section describes the approach for predicting the environmental effects that could arise from the proposal, the consideration of mitigation and enhancement measures, and suggestions for implementing a monitoring programme.

5.2.2 A number of previous SEAs, particularly those pertaining to policies with implications for land use, set an appropriate framework for the present assessment. These assessments have already compiled a considerable amount of baseline data on forests and woodlands in Scotland, and have explored the possible environmental impacts that could result from changes to the sector. Recent examples include:

  • 'Getting the best from our land - A land use strategy for Scotland 2016-2021' [54] ;
  • 'Draft Climate Change Plan: The Draft Third Report on Policies and Proposals 2017-2032' and 'Draft Scottish Energy Strategy: The Future of Energy in Scotland' (joint assessment) [55] ;
  • 'Proposals for a Draft Climate Change Bill' [56] ;
  • 'The Scottish Forestry Strategy 2006 [57]
  • SEA of Forest District Plans [58]

5.2.3 Additional SEAs of relevance include those undertaken on National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy [59] (joint), 'A Consultation on 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity' [60] , and 'Climate Ready Scotland: Draft Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme' [61] . The assessment of these policy areas has largely been undertaken by the Scottish Government SEA team, thereby providing the added benefit of good institutional knowledge of the broader policy area and a consistency of approach.

5.2.4 Relevant environmental baseline information and findings have been collated from these previous assessments and used to guide this assessment.

5.2.5 The Scoping Report set out SEA objectives and associated questions to help describe, analyse, and compare environmental effects. They cover all of the SEA topic areas that have been scoped into the assessment including climatic factors and material assets following comment from SEPA during the scoping consultation. The example objectives and their corresponding assessment questions were derived from the key environmental issues, baseline data, and environmental protection objectives of relevance to the proposal.

5.2.6 During the scoping stage the Consultation Authorities provided additional questions for inclusion in the assessment. However, it soon became evident that many of the questions were not applicable to the proposals – due to the level of the proposals; and that the original assessment methodology did not lend itself well to the relatively minor changes reflected in the proposals. Therefore, the assessment is presented as a narrative overview drawing more broadly on each of the topic areas.

5.2.7 The aim is to focus the assessment on the key issues and potential for significant environmental effects (short, medium and long-term [62] , permanent and temporary, positive and negative, secondary, cumulative and synergistic) associated with the proposals, ensuring this is framed in the context of current environmental obligations.


Email: FutureForestry@gov.scot

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