4 How the findings of the Environmental Report have been taken into account
4.1 The findings of the Environmental Report
4.1.1 The Environmental Report details the conclusions and recommendations of the assessment on the consultation draft Plan. The key themes drawn from the assessment are discussed below.
4.1.2 The SEA concluded that the draft Plan, with its core purpose of promoting and supporting the implementation of tailored management for the benefit of Scotland and communities, will have overall positive effects for the SEA topics of population and human health, material assets and climatic factors, with the potential for some short term local negative effects for the latter arising from development on the ground. Mixed effects are anticipated for biodiversity, soil, water, air, cultural heritage and landscape, and visual topics. Investment and management changes related to Crown Estate assets have the potential to alter the balance of ecosystem services provided by an asset, with some increasing and some reducing.
4.1.3 The draft Plan has the potential to positively and cumulatively contribute across a wide range of Scottish Government policy areas. However, there is an inherent uncertainty in the actions that will be taken and therefore in the resultant assessment findings.
4.1.4 Where appropriate, the requirements of existing statutory consenting and licensing regimes and environmental assessment requirements were taken into account as ‘assumed mitigation’ and factored into the assessment of the significance of effects. Finally, the report made a number of recommendations for mitigation and / or enhancement measures, where appropriate. These are:
- Where the management of an asset is transferred, the draft Management Plan allows for assets to be brought back under Crown Estate Scotland management/ alternate management if the asset was deemed to be managed poorly or if maintenance became an issue. It is recommended that the Scottish Government or Crown Estate Scotland monitor on a regular basis those assets subject to local control. (material assets)
- In terms of provisions for the sale of assets for less than market value, it is recognised that realisation of financial benefits or wider environmental or social benefits may not be immediate. It is therefore recommended that the length of time that any wider benefits will take to develop is considered, but does not prejudice the assessment of whether there is potential to sell assets for less than market value. (material assets)
- Consideration should be given to exploring opportunities through lower tier Plans, Programmes and Strategies as well as in the consenting and licensing of individual projects at local level where appropriate, to mitigating the environmental effects of increased tourism. (population and human health, air and water)
- Consideration should be given to opportunities to maximise provision of public access to recreation facilities, green infrastructure and green spaces. (population and human health)
- It is recommended that consideration is given to opportunities for building capacity and understanding on all aspects of environmental management and protection in community organisations when taking on asset management responsibilities through the provision of guidance and advice. (all SEA topics including biodiversity, flora and fauna and cultural heritage)
- Asset Managers should give consideration at the earliest stages to appropriate siting and design of new infrastructure in collaboration with community bodies where appropriate. (soil and geodiversity)
- The assessment findings support the draft Plan’s focus on increased investment activity for community or national benefit and which contributes to Scotland’s Climate Change Plan. (climatic factors)
- Investment decisions at asset level should consider opportunities for enhancing the environment for the wider community benefit. (landscape and visual).
4.1.5 The SEA process aligned with the development of the draft Strategic Management Plan and helped to refine the objectives, priorities and policies into broader themes. It has allowed further consideration of environmental topics that may be affected by the implementation of the Plan and has offered recommendations on how these can be mitigated, or enhanced further.
4.1.6 The findings of the SEA also helped to re-emphasise the importance of providing guidance to managers, where control of assets was to be managed locally.