2. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) explained
Purpose of SEA
2.1 SEA considers and communicates the likely significant effects of an emerging plan, programme or strategy, and the reasonable alternatives considered during the plan making process, in terms of key sustainability issues. The aim of SEA is to inform and influence the plan-making process with a view to avoiding or mitigating negative effects and maximising positive effects. Through this approach, the SEA seeks to maximise an emerging plan's contribution to sustainable development.
2.2 An SEA is undertaken in line with the procedures prescribed by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.
2.3 The Act requires that an environmental report is published for consultation alongside the draft plan that 'shall identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant effects on the environment of implementing (a) the plan or programme; and (b) reasonable alternatives to the plan or programme…taking into account the objectives and the geographical scope of the plan or programme.' The report must then be taken into account, alongside consultation responses, when finalising the plan.
2.4 The 'likely significant effects on the environment', are those defined in the Act as '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 interrelationship between the above factors'. Reasonable alternatives to the plan need to take into consideration the objectives for the plan and its geographic scope. The choice of 'reasonable alternatives' is determined by means of a case-by-case assessment and a decision.
Stages of SEA
2.5 The key stages of the SEA for the SBS & Delivery Plan are set out below.
This Environmental Report
Purpose of this Environmental Report
2.6 This Environmental Report accompanies the Delivery Plan for the SBS for consultation and is a key output of the SEA process. Its purpose is to:
- Identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant environmental effects of the SBS & Delivery Plan and alternative approaches; and
- Provide a perspective on the likely environmental performance of the SBS & Delivery Plan and key areas for monitoring during its implementation.
2.7 The Environmental Report is the third document to be produced as part of the SEA process for the SBS. The first document was the joint SEA Screening and Scoping Report (February 2022), which included information about the baseline against which the SBS would be assessed and the 'framework' against which the SBS has been assessed. The second document was an updated version of the Scoping Report for stakeholder comment (February 2023).
Structure of this Environmental Report
2.8 In line with the provisions of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, this Environmental Report has been structured as follows:
- Chapter 3 presents an overview of the scoping process for the SEA (Stage 1 in Figure 2.1).
- Chapters 4 and 5 present an overview of the options appraisal undertakes as part of the process for assessing reasonable alternatives for the SBS & Delivery Plan (Stage 2)
- Chapter 6 presents an assessment of the current version of the SBS & Delivery Plan, in terms of the likely significant environmental effects of the strategy and delivery plan components of the SBS (Stage 3)
- Chapter 7 presents proposals for monitoring the significant environmental effects of the SBS, and opportunities for enhancements (linked to Stage 5)
- Chapter 8 subsequently sets out the next steps for the SBS & Delivery Plan and accompanying SEA process.
2.9 Consultation on this Environmental Report alongside the SBS & Delivery Plan comprises Stage 4.
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