Publication - Impact assessment

Climate Change Plan 2018-2032 - update: strategic environmental assessment - draft

Draft strategic environmental assessment of the update to the Climate Change Plan 2018 to 2032. The appendices are available as a supporting file on this page.

Climate Change Plan 2018-2032 - update: strategic environmental assessment - draft
Non-Technical Summary

Non-Technical Summary

Introduction to the Update of the Climate Change Plan

The update to the Climate Change Plan (CCPu) “boosts” existing carbon reduction policies and proposals and/or identifies additional new policies and proposals to those currently set out in the Plan. The update builds on and complements the existing Plan.

Initially, the CCPu was drafted pre COVID-19 and included summaries of contributions from each of the key policy sectors. The draft plan and sector summaries were due to be laid before Parliament in April 2020, however due to the COVID-19 outbreak this work was postponed.

This update recognises the potential role the CCPu can play in ensuring a green and resilient recovery to COVID-19. Policies and proposals must consider both how they support the green recovery from the pandemic and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has highlighted the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in tackling climate change and has provided advice on delivering economic recovery that accelerates the transition to a cleaner, net-zero emissions economy, whilst strengthening the resilience to the impacts of climate change. From an economic perspective, this could include investing in climate-resilient low-carbon infrastructure, job creation in low-carbon and climate-resilient industries, training and reskilling of the workforce.

The update to the CCP continues to focus on the required seven key sectors: electricity, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture, waste, and land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), and includes the additional sector of Negative Emissions Technologies which include ways of removing carbon dioxide from the air.

What is Strategic Environmental Assessment?

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a way of considering the environment when preparing public plans, programmes and strategies. It identifies potential significant environmental effects and, where necessary, describes how these effects can be avoided or reduced. Through consultation, SEA also provides an opportunity for the public to express their views on proposed policies and their potential environmental impacts.

SEA should begin at an early stage in a plan’s preparation, as it is important that the future consultation on the plan and the Environmental Report takes place when ideas are forming, and policy options are still being actively considered. In this case, SEA was undertaken on the emerging updates with the first iteration prepared in spring 2020 and followed by the assessment of the Green Recovery CCPu in autumn 2020.

How was the Strategic Environmental Assessment undertaken?

SEA is an assessment of the likely environmental effects of the Update of Climate Change Plan and the alternatives to it. The Environmental Report considers the environmental effects of the Update to the Climate Change Plan. The assessment has considered policies which are new, boosted or maintained.

The SEA process began in early 2020 with the production of a Screening/Scoping Report for the update to the CCP. The Screening/Scoping Report outlines the environmental baseline for the plan areas as well as the policy context and key sustainability issues. The assessment identifies positive and negative environmental effects and the significance of these; considers whether they would be temporary or permanent; and notes where they would arise in the short, medium or long term. It also distinguishes between effects arising directly and indirectly from the update to the Climate Change Plan.

The draft update will seek to build on and complement the existing CCP published in February 2018. Reflecting the ambitious nature of the plan, it was anticipated that achieving the GHG emissions targets would require maximum possible emissions savings (whilst ensuring nobody is left behind, reflecting the principle of a Just Transition) across the sectors.

Which reasonable alternatives have been considered?

The 2005 Act requires that the likely significant environmental effects of reasonable alternatives of a plan, programme or strategy are assessed as part of the SEA process.

Due to the requirement of meeting ambitious climate change targets, the scope for alternatives is limited.

In considering what a “reasonable” alternative is, the Scottish Government’s commitment to decarbonise the whole energy system and tackle climate change has been taken into account. The CCP is being updated to reflect the increased ambition of the new targets set in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.

Based on the current legislative context, and the declared climate emergency, it was identified that the current ambition can only be to achieve the maximum emissions reductions possible, reflected across all sectors based on current technical and practical limitations, and no reasonable alternatives were identified as a consequence.

What are the key environmental challenges relevant to the Update of the Climate Change Plan?

In terms of climatic factors, it is predicted that the greatest climate change related threats for the UK are large increases in flood risk, exposure to high temperatures and heat waves and sea level rise. Issues such as shortages in the public water supply and for agriculture, energy production, and industry will also become more frequent. There will also be a substantial risk to UK wildlife and natural ecosystems, risks to domestic and international food production and trade. New and emerging pests and diseases, and invasive non-native species are also influenced by a changing climate. Key land use actions to address climate change include development of renewable energy and protection of carbon stocks on land and in the marine environment.

For population and human health, key environmental challenges include population growth. Impacts on population include air pollution that may pose both short- and long-term health issues. Transport is a significant contributor to poor air quality, especially in urban areas. Heating and cooling of homes accounts for a significant part of the GHG emissions, and fuel poverty remains an issue. Flooding can also pose significant environmental impacts and can also affect people, communities and businesses.

Air pollution, despite recent reductions, is still identified as a concern especially in towns and cities. Some of the key contributors to air pollution are transport, energy generation and agriculture, which are also key contributors to climate change.

Scotland’s soils are considered to generally be in good health, however, there are a range of pressures on them. Issues such as climate change and loss of organic matter pose significant threats to Scottish soils, with both likely to affect soil function including loss of soil carbon. Changes in land use and land management are also some of the key pressures on soil. These include activities such as transport and development through road building, the expansion of urban areas, and agriculture and forestry practices.

Key pressures on the surface water environment include urbanisation, an increase in invasive non-native species, intensive agriculture/aquaculture and climate change. Rural and urban diffuse pollution remains a concern for water quality, particularly in relation to agriculture, forestry and urban development. The risk of flooding from rivers, surface waters and sea are also predicted to increase as a result of climate change.

Key pressures for biodiversity include land use intensification and modification, pollution, urban development, nutrient enrichment and over exploitation of natural resources. Climate change also poses a significant risk to biodiversity.

In terms of cultural heritage and historic environment, development poses a key pressure on these both directly in terms of damage to known and unknown features, and the potential impacts on setting. Other pressures include changing land use and land management, tourism/visitors, pollution and climate change.

Changes in landscape tend to occur over long periods of time, and gradual change as a result of development such as housing, and changes in farming and forestry practices can be difficult to determine. Climate change poses one of the key environmental challenges for Scottish landscapes due to changing temperatures and patterns of precipitation, weather events and sea level change.

Energy storage is likely to be an increasingly important part of the transition to delivering clean, affordable and secure supply of energy. Increasing the use of biological wastes in processes such as anaerobic digestion can increase the production of biogas, which is a source of renewable fuel and heat. Forestry and farming will need to adapt to cope with the impacts of climate change, such as flooding, drought, unseasonable weather and increased risk of pests and diseases. The demands for the services that the natural environment produces, such as food, water, fuel and materials for development, is likely to grow in line with population growth. Some material assets, such as roads and rail transport, and generally more vulnerable to a changing climate than air and water transport. Flooding is identified to have the most significant impact on these networks, extreme weather conditions and landslides will also have significant impacts.

Which existing environmental protection objectives are relevant?

There are many established environmental protection objectives which form the context for the assessment. International and national level policies and strategies that aim to protect and enhance the environment. Climatic objectives focus on achieving Scotland’s GHG emissions to net zero by 2045. Objectives for population and human health aim to prevent or limit exposure to environmental harm and nuisance such as air pollution, especially in urban areas. Objectives for water and air aim to reduce pollution, and to reverse the effects of past emissions. Soil and geology objectives seek to protect prime quality agricultural land and valuable soil resources including the protection of peatlands and remediation of contaminated land. Biodiversity objectives focus on protecting habitats and species from damage and disturbance and improve natural heritage networks. Cultural heritage objectives range from protection of World Heritage Sites and Marine Protected Areas, to recognition and management of more locally important buildings and archeology, and their wider setting. Landscape objectives reflect the importance of all landscapes and the need to help to improve those that have become degraded. The assessment of seascape as an element of landscape value is also recognised. The role of the marine environment in renewable energy generation is clearly recognised, alongside the role of land based assets such as forestry and agriculture. Objectives for material assets seeks to contribute to the core planning objective and supporting sustainable development, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and making the best use of Scotland’s resources and existing infrastructure. Cutting across all these objectives, international and national climate change objectives are expressed in targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting adaptation to changing weather patterns.

Strategic Environmental Assessment Findings

The environmental effects from the policies related to each sector are followed by cumulative, secondary and synergistic effects across the SEA topic areas.

Electricity

Policies and proposals within the electricity sector are expected to have significant positive effects in relation to climatic factors as they generally seek to aid the decarbonisation of electricity generation through new technologies such as renewable energy, carbon capture, utitlisation and storage, hydrogen and electricity storage. The greater implementation of these green technologies will contribute towards reducing GHG emissions, by reducing reliance on fossil-fueled electricity. The greater implementation of such technologies is likely to result in significant positive effects on material assets due to improved flexibility and security of energy supply.

Transport

Policies and proposals within the transport sector are expected to have significant positive effects in relation to climatic factors as they support decarbonisation of transport through promoting the uptake of electric or low emission vehicles, encouraging behavioural change to travel, such as shorter or fewer journeys, and encouraging travel by active and public transport. These measures will contribute towards reducing GHG emissions, thereby having positive effects on climate change. With a shift from fossil fuelled vehicles to low emissions vehicles, and greater uptake of active travel, there is likely to be improvements in air quality due to less pollution, particularly in urban areas within poor air quality, and benefitting human health.

Industry

Policies and proposals within the industry sector promote a wide range of measures such as the introduction of discount and emissions trading schemes, and funds to promote the uptake of low-carbon technologies for example low-carbon heat, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, hydrogen, renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. The greater uptake and use of these technologies and schemes set out within the industry sector is likely to result in significant positive effects in relation to climate change, as a result of reductions in GHG emissions across the sector. This will lead to increased energy efficiency and a reduction in the demand for energy, reducing pressure on supply and distribution networks with positive effects on these networks.

Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs)

Policies and proposals within the negative emission technologies sector promote a wide range of measures which support the uptake of negative emission technologies, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and hydrogen technologies. Policies and proposals provide mechanisms for the identification of potential sites, funding, demonstration and the expansion of evidence relating to such technologies. Additionally, policies and proposals supporting the uptake of bioenergy and biomass may encourage low-carbon alternatives to provide energy, heat and transport fuel. The greater uptake and use of these technologies and schemes set out within the negative emission technologies sector is likely to result in significant positive effects in relation to climate change, as a result of reductions in GHG emissions across the sector. Similar to industry, reduced pressure on energy supply and distribution networks and will provide greater security of supply.

Buildings

Policies and proposals within the buildings sector are expected to have significant positive effects in relation to climatic factors as they generally seek to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, promote renewable energy and low carbon heat. This will result in reductions in GHG emissions due to less reliance on traditional fuels. Furthermore, improving efficiency and promoting uptake of low-carbon energy and heat will have positive effects on population and human health as a result of improved flexibility and security of supply.

Agriculture

All policies and proposals set out within the agriculture sector are expected to have significant positive effects relating to climate change due to the promotion of more efficient and sustainable farming practices which will reduce GHG emissions, such as reduced use of nitrogen fertilisers and improved emissions intensity of livestock. Furthermore, proposals supporting knowledge exchange, onsite renewable energy generation, and land use management to provide increased carbon sequestration will also facilitate reductions in GHG emissions.

General improvements in land management practices are also expected to have positive effects in relation to material assets, and proposals supporting the development of other habitats such as woodland within agricultural holdings provide benefits for biodiversity by providing new habitats and greater connectivity.

Waste

Policies and proposals within the waste sector are expected to have significant positive effects in relation to climatic factors as they generally seek to reduce pressure on landfill infrastructure and increase recycling of waste. Proposals supporting recycling and the circular economy, reductions in food waste and the banning of single use items such as bottles and carrier bags could lead to reductions in GHG emissions as a result of less processing of waste and reduced need to manufacture goods from new. Positive effects on GHG emissions are also predicted from policies and proposals seeking to capture landfill gas which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Additionally, policies and proposals which will aid in reducing pressure on landfill infrastructure are expected to have positive effects on material assets.

Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry

The policies and proposals set out within the LULUCF sector are likely to result in significant positive effects in relation to climate change. Policies and proposals generally promote the expansion and creation of woodland and forestry and/or support peatland restoration. The expansion of woodland and forestry is expected to increase rates of carbon sequestration, and the restoration of peatland will improve the quality of high carbon soils, reducing GHG emissions and maximising the potential for carbon to be stored and absorbed.

The policies and proposals relating to LULUCF are expected to have mixed effects on material assets as although they may promote and encourage better land management and may improve degraded land through planting of woodland or forestry or peatland, there may be direct conflicts of land use. For example, loss of agricultural land for woodland, forestry or peatland restoration.

Cumulative, secondary and synergistic effects

Secondary environmental effects

Electricity

Several secondary effects are identified as likely to arise from policies and proposals within the electricity sector. Policies and proposals which seek to reduce reliance on fossil-fueled electricity by promoting the uptake of new low-carbon technologies are likely to have associated benefits for air quality due to lower levels of pollution. This is identified as resulting in subsequent benefits for population and human health.

Proposals which encourage the uptake of low-carbon technologies such as renewable energy, CCS and hydrogen may result in development which could have adverse effects on topics such as landscape and cultural heritage. Furthermore, some development may have adverse effects in relation to soils, depending on the scale, nature and location of development.

Additionally, policies and proposals within the electricity sector may have adverse secondary effects on a number of SEA topics such as population and human health, soil, water, air and biodiversity, as a consequence of construction and infrastructure improvement works. However, it is recognised that these effects are likely to be temporary in nature.

Transport

Whilst policies and proposals within the transport sector are expected to have primary positive effects in relation to climatic factors, air and population and human health, a number of secondary effects have been identified in relation to other SEA topics. Policies promoting alternatively fueled vehicles, public transport and active travel may result in additional infrastructure requirements. If existing infrastructure is not adequate to meet the needs of development set out in policies and proposals, there may be increased pressure on infrastructure, having adverse effects for material assets.

Transport related development as outlined in policies and proposals may have mixed effects on biodiversity due to potential loss of habitat for infrastructure. However, promotion of active travel such as footpaths and cycle paths may provide biodiversity benefits by creating linear corridors of habitat.

Likewise, development of transport infrastructure such as new roads, distribution centres, charging facilities and processing plants for alternative fuels such as hydrogen could have potential adverse effects on soil, population and human health air and water quality. However, it is recognised that some of these effects are likely to arise during construction periods and are temporary in nature.

Industry

A number of secondary effects could arise from policies and proposals within the industry sector. Policies and proposals which support and promote the uptake of measures which will result in reductions in GHG emissions are likely to have associated benefits for air quality, and subsequent benefits for population and human health.

Policies and proposals may result in the greater uptake of technologies and measures which could affect the fabric of a building, heritage asset or landscape character. However, it is recognised that these policies and proposals will primarily relate to improvements or application of technologies in existing industrial areas.

Additionally, policies and proposals within the industry sector may have adverse secondary effects on a number of SEA topics such as population and human health, soil, water, air and biodiversity, as a consequence of construction and infrastructure improvement works. However, it is recognised that these effects are likely to be temporary in nature.

Negative Emissions Technologies

A number of secondary effects are identified as likely to arise from policies and proposals within the negative emission technologies sector. Policies and proposals which support and promote the uptake of measures which will result in reductions in GHG emissions are likely to have associated benefits for air quality, and subsequent benefits for population and human health. However, policies and proposals supporting bioenergy such as biomass may have mixed effects in relation to air quality as the biomass combustion process can result in the emission of air pollutants which could have subsequent adverse effects on human health.

Additionally, policies and proposals within the negative emission technologies sector may have adverse secondary effects on a number of SEA topics such as population and human health, soil, water, air and biodiversity, as a consequence of construction and infrastructure improvement works. However, it is recognised that these effects are likely to be temporary in nature.

Buildings

Several secondary effects are identified as likely to arise from policies and proposals within the building sector. Firstly, policies and proposals which seek to reduce reliance on fossil-fueled energy and heat could result in air quality improvements. However, the implementation of such technologies may have adverse effects on a number of SEA topics. Changes to the fabric of buildings to incorporate energy efficiency measures or low-carbon technologies might have adverse effects on biodiversity, for example bats, or cultural heritage or landscape as a result of changes to the appearance of buildings.

As a consequence of construction and building improvement works, there may be adverse effects on topics such as soil, biodiversity, water and air quality. However, it is recognised that these effects are likely to be temporary in nature.

Agriculture

Improvements in land management techniques, as set out in policies and proposals within the agriculture sector may have secondary effects on several SEA topics. Promoting better land management and the more efficient use of fertilisers may reduce nutrient leaching and pollution of nearby watercourses, having positive effects on water quality. This may have subsequent benefits for biodiversity, including aquatic species.

Furthermore, limiting fertiliser use and promoting a diverse range of habitats may improve soil quality. Improved soil quality may have subsequent benefits on material assets as a result of improved fertility and crop production. In addition, better land management practices and the planting of habitats such as woodland and hedgerows may improve landscape character and have positive effects on the setting of cultural heritage assets.

Waste

Policies and proposals within the waste sector are expected to have adverse secondary effects in relation to several SEA topics such as population and human health, biodiversity, soil, water, landscape, cultural heritage and air quality, as a consequence of construction, operation and siting of waste infrastructure. However, it is recognised that these effects will be dependent on the scale, nature and location of developments, and in the case of effects arising from the construction phase, may be temporary in nature.

Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry

Policies supporting woodland expansion or creation, and peatland restoration may subsequently result in improvements to population and human health as a result of improved opportunities to access woodland, forestry and peatland for recreational purposes.

Additionally, secondary benefits arising from woodland and forestry creation and peatland restoration may result in positive effects on water due to intercepting and filtering pollutants and providing natural flood management measures. Likewise, benefits to soils may arise due to increased soil stability resulting from the planting of woodland and forestry and improved quality of high carbon soils from peatland restoration.

Further benefits may arise for biodiversity, as a result of the creation of new and improved habitats and greater connectivity. However, in some cases, policies and proposals may result in adverse effects on biodiversity as the creation of woodland or peatland restoration may impact non-woodland and non-peatland biodiversity, respectively.

Cumulative and in-combination effects

The following paragraphs summarise the potential cumulative and in-combination effects likely to arise from the Climate Change Plan.

Climatic Factors and Emissions Reduction

The policies and proposals set out in each of the sectors within the update to the Climate Change Plan are expected to make a significant contribution to Scotland’s commitment to GHG reduction targets.

All of the policies and proposals set out in the update to the Climate Change Plan will contribute towards reducing GHG emissions and meeting Scotland's target for net zero, thereby having positive effects on climatic factors. The extent to which these policies and proposals will contribute towards emission reductions varies, with complementary roles of the policies and proposals resulting in overall positive cumulative effects. For example, measures aimed at promoting energy efficiency within the building and industry sectors will be complemented by those that provide financial mechanisms to facilitate their uptake.

All of the policies and proposals within the electricity sector focus on aiding the decarbonisation of electricity generation and promote the increased uptake of renewable and low carbon technologies. These policies and proposals will be complemented by policies and proposals supporting technologies such as electric vehicles, electricity storage, CCUS, and hydrogen power. This sector therefore could make a significant contribution towards meeting net zero targets and ensuring a broad mix of technologies will help improve the security and flexibility of supply. This will be important in order to meet the future challenges to electricity supply and transmission.

Furthermore, reducing the overall demand for electricity and energy within the buildings and industry sector by improving the energy efficiency of both domestic and non-domestic buildings, and industry will further contribute towards reducing GHG emissions. The policies and proposals set out within these sectors may also encourage reductions in GHG emissions by promoting and supporting the uptake of renewable and low-carbon energy and heat technologies. In addition, the promotion and support of negative emission technologies including CCUS, hydrogen and bioenergy may further contribute towards GHG emission reductions.

Land management will also play a fundamental role in reducing GHG emissions. Policies and proposals, such as those that relate to the creation of woodland and forestry and restoration of peatland, will help to reduce emissions and support adaptation.

Reductions and more targeted use of fertilisers and improved efficiency of resources may also contribute towards general reductions in GHG emissions. Other measures promoted within the agricultural sector policies and proposals include reducing the emission intensity of livestock, which will have direct effects on GHG emission reductions across the sector.

The policies and proposals relating to transport are also expected to play a fundamental role in reducing GHG emissions. Policies generally support the decarbonisation of the sector, seeking greater uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) and behavioural change towards travel. Policies and proposals promote the use of public and active transport modes for journeys and encourage a reduction in the number and length of journeys made by private vehicle. This would have direct effects on reducing GHG emissions, and subsequent benefits for other SEA topics which are discussed below.

Likewise, policies and proposals within the waste sector are expected to have significant positive effects in relation to climate change as they generally seek to reduce pressure on landfill infrastructure and increase recycling of waste. Proposals supporting recycling and the circular economy, landfill gas capture reductions in food waste and the banning of single use items could lead to reductions in GHG emissions as a result of less processing of waste and reduced need to manufacture goods from new.

Having appropriate infrastructure in place to enable the transition and uptake of technologies such as ULEVs, low-carbon and renewable energy and heat will be vital in achieving these benefits for climate change, and could provide benefits additional benefits in terms of material assets.

Population and Human Health

Many of the policies and proposals set out within the update to the climate change plan are likely to have significant benefits for air quality in Scotland, and subsequently will have significant positive effect on population and human health. Air quality issues are often associated with the release of GHG emissions, which are frequently derived from the transport and energy sectors. Therefore, policies and proposals which seek to reduce emissions from these sources, including those related to CCUS, are therefore likely to provide benefits to air quality, and subsequently, population and human health.

In addition to policies and proposals relating to decarbonisation of transport, those which promote uptake of active travel such as walking and cycling, may have additional benefits by increasing physical activity and helping to improve mental wellbeing. This may be complemented by policies and proposals within the LULUCF sector which may provide improved recreational opportunities by increasing accessibility for people to woodland and forestry, and areas of peatland.

Policies and proposals supporting improved energy efficiency in buildings and industry, and uptake of low carbon and renewable energy and heat may have additional benefits for population and human health by reducing fuel poverty and ensuring access to warm homes and workplaces.

However, some negative effects could arise as a result of construction activities relating to the development and improvement of infrastructure and buildings. These are likely to be short-term in nature. These are most likely to be related to nuisance such as dust, noise, vibration or visual impact, and are likely to be localised and temporary. In many instances, adverse impacts may be mitigated through a combination of planning mechanisms and on-site management measures.

Air

Many of the policies and proposals set out within the update to the Climate Change Plan are likely to have significant benefits for air quality in Scotland. As air pollution often originates from the same sources and activities that contribute to the release of GHG emissions, notably transport and electricity/energy generation, proposals which support the move towards low-carbon and renewable energy, and seek to decarbonise the transport sector are expected to have associated benefits to air quality. Therefore, reducing emissions from these sources is therefore likely to improve air quality at both local and national levels.

One of the primary causes of poor air quality is due to pollution derived from transport. Policies and proposals which aim to aid the decarbonisation of the transport sector are therefore likely to have significant positive effects on improving air quality. Measures to improve air quality are further complemented by policies and proposals which encourage the use of active and public modes of transport.

Additionally, the decarbonisation of the energy and electricity sector through promotion of low-carbon and renewable energy and heat, is likely to have further positive effects on air quality. This will be complemented by policies within the buildings and industry sector which also promote energy efficiency measures, thereby requiring less energy production, and the uptake of low-carbon and renewable technologies.

Technologies such as CCUS, as promoted within the negative emission technologies, could help to contribute to significant reductions in air pollution; particularly if utilised on a commercial scale. While this could have positive effects for air quality, any benefits will be influenced by the specific CCUS utilised and the industries for which this technology is used.

Soil

Several sectors within the update to the Climate Change Plan are likely to have significant benefits for soil quality in Scotland. Both the LULUCF and agricultural sectors are identified as having policies and proposals which could have potential significant effects on soil quality. Policies and proposals relating to the creation of woodland and forestry may improve soil stability and drainage, and those promoting peatland restoration are likely to improve the quality of high carbon soils. These positive effects on soil are likely to be complemented by policies and proposals promoting better land use management across the agricultural sector.

Additionally, both positive and negative effects on soil are anticipated as a result of policies and proposals set out in the waste sector. Policies and proposals which support the reduced need for landfilling of waste may have positive effects on soil due to less land take for landfilling.

However, the widespread uptake of low-carbon and renewable energy and heat technologies, as promoted across the electricity, buildings, negative emission technologies and industry sectors, may have adverse effects on soil quality due to the siting of developments, resulting in soil sealing and soil compaction. This may be particularly relevant when considered cumulatively, especially due to the development of large-scale commercial scale renewable energy schemes such as wind farms, which are often sited in landscapes with important soil resources.

Water

Both the LULUCF and agricultural sectors are identified as having policies and proposals which are likely to result in significant benefits for water quality. Policies and proposals relating to the creation of woodland and forestry may improve the quality of nearby watercourses and groundwater as it could intercept run-off and filter pollutants. Additionally, policies relating to peatland restoration are also expected to improve water quality by storing and cleaning water, as well as acting as important natural flood plains, soaking up excess water and regulating run-off. Woodland and forestry may also provide natural flood management measures.

These positive effects are likely to be complemented by policies and proposals within the agricultural sector which relate to better land management practices. However, some negative effects may arise as a result of construction activities relating to the development and improvement of infrastructure. This is likely to be localised and short-term in nature. In many instances, adverse impacts may be mitigated through a combination of planning mechanisms and on-site management measures.

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Both the LULUCF and agricultural sectors are identified as having policies and proposals which are likely to result in significant benefits for biodiversity, flora and fauna. Policies and proposals relating to the creation of woodland and forestry may provide benefits for biodiversity by creating new habitats and improving connectivity of the ecological network. Policies relating to peatland restoration will are also expected to improve peatland biodiversity. However, it is noted that the creation of woodland and peatland may result in adverse effects on non-woodland and non-peatland biodiversity.

These positive effects arising from woodland/forestry creation and peatland restoration are likely to be complemented by policies and proposals within the agricultural sector which relate to better land management practices.

Policies and proposals relating to the decarbonisation of the electricity sector, including those promoting large-scale renewable energy development may disturb both terrestrial and marine biodiversity, with bird strike a notable issue for onshore wind turbines. Likewise, policies and proposals supporting energy efficiency in homes may adversely affect biodiversity such as roosting bats, if roof cavities are disturbed for the installation of insulation.

Additionally, some negative effects could arise because of construction activities relating to the development and improvement of infrastructure. This is likely to be localised and short-term in nature. In many instances, adverse impacts during both construction and operation may be mitigated through a combination of planning mechanisms such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), appropriate siting and design, local consultation and engagement and on-site management measures.

Cultural Heritage & Historic Environment

Both the LULUCF and agricultural sectors are identified as having policies and proposals which are likely to result in significant benefits for cultural heritage and the historic environment. Policies and proposals relating to the creation of woodland and forestry may improve the setting of heritage assets, depending on the species grown and the design of planting. Furthermore, policies promoting peatland restoration have the potential to have benefits on cultural heritage, particularly as peatlands are considered some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes and are culturally significant.

Policies and proposals seeking to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and encouraging the uptake of low carbon and renewable energy technologies may have adverse effects on cultural heritage and the historic environment. In particular, the retrofitting of buildings to include new technologies, for example solar panels or heat pumps, and siting of new development may alter the setting of heritage assets or change the appearance or fabric of a historic asset. Negative effects are likely as a result of cumulative developments.

Negative effects on the historic environment may be further heightened by large scale developments resulting from transport policies and proposals. For example, the development of large-scale consolidation centres may result in visual impacts which could affect landscape and cultural heritage, depending on site and setting.

Additionally, some negative effects could arise because of construction activities relating to the development and improvement of infrastructure. This is likely to be localised and short-term in nature. In many instances, adverse impacts identified through the implementation and construction of infrastructure may be mitigated through a combination of planning mechanisms, including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) where applicable, appropriate siting and design, local consultation and engagement and on-site management measures.

Landscape and geodiversity

Both the LULUCF and agricultural sectors have policies and proposals which are likely to result in significant benefits for landscape. Policies and proposals relating to the creation of woodland and forestry could improve the landscape character, depending on the scale and nature of change. However, if inappropriately designed woodland or forestry may have adverse effects on landscape character. Potential negative impacts on the landscape can be mitigated if woodland creation schemes are appropriately designed and delivered. Furthermore, policies promoting peatland restoration have the potential to have benefits on landscape character, particularly as peatlands are considered some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes.

Policies and proposals seeking to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and encouraging the uptake of low carbon and renewable energy technologies may have adverse effects on landscape character. In particular, the retrofitting of buildings to include new technologies such as solar panels and siting of new development may alter the character of the landscape.

As noted for cultural heritage, negative effects on the landscape may be further heightened by large scale developments resulting from transport policies and proposals, such as consolidation centres.

Additionally, some negative effects could arise because of construction activities relating to the development and improvement of infrastructure. This is likely to be localised and short-term in nature. In many instances, adverse impacts identified through the implementation and construction of infrastructure are likely to be mitigated through a combination of planning mechanisms, including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as applicable, appropriate siting and design, local consultation and engagement and on-site management measures.

Material Assets (Waste, Energy, Transport and Land Use)

Promoting and encouraging the uptake of low-carbon and renewable energy technologies is a theme that is present within numerous sectors of the Climate Change Plan, notably those relating to electricity, buildings, negative emission technologies and industry. Policies and proposals in these sectors complement each other, supporting the decarbonisation of electricity generation. They promote new technologies ranging from small scale, such as solar PV on buildings, to large scale such as commercial-scale renewable energy, CCUS, hydrogen and electricity storage. The implementation of these technologies, and reduced reliance on fossil-fuel derived energy will help reduce pressure on the existing distribution network, and improve the reliability, flexibility and security of electricity supply, having significant positive effects on material assets.

However, if infrastructure is not adequate to accommodate a larger number of and greater variety of renewable and low carbon technologies, there may be added pressure on the existing network until infrastructure improvements are made. Similarly, transport policies promoting public transport and alternatively fueled vehicles may require additional infrastructure. If existing infrastructure is not adequate to meet the needs of development set out in policies and proposals, there may be increased pressure on infrastructure, having adverse effects for material assets.

Positive effects on material assets are expected to arise from policies and proposals within the waste sector, as they seek to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. However, policies and proposals relating to LULUCF are expected to have mixed effects on material assets as although they may promote and encourage better land management and may improve degraded land through planting of woodland or forestry or peatland, there may be direct conflicts of land use. For example, loss of agricultural land for woodland, forestry or peatland restoration. The policies relating to agriculture may complement those of LULUCF as they generally seek to improve soil quality and fertility which subsequently may result in increased crop production, again having positive effects on material assets. However, as with LULUCF, agricultural policies and proposals may have cumulative adverse effects on material assets arising from conflicts of land use.

What measures could be put in place to avoid, reduce or manage the environmental effects of the Update of the Climate change Plan?

The CCPu sets out a series of climate change mitigation measures and the ambitions, policies and proposals aim to meet Scotland’s climate change commitments. They are also likely to have beneficial impacts for adapting to and improving resilience to the predicted effects of climate change. Opportunities for mitigation of adverse environmental effects and enhancement of positive environmental effects are set out for each sector.

For Agriculture there are opportunities to further enhance benefits, particularly in relation to biodiversity, flora and fauna, water and landscape through supporting landscape scale co-ordination of these actions.

For Electricity further understanding is needed of potential adverse effects from the development of new, or the upgrading of existing, infrastructure particularly identified in relation to cultural heritage and landscape and potential mixed effects on biodiversity, flora and fauna, soil and air through monitoring, and where additional mitigation may be required through strengthening advice in existing guidance.

For LULUCF priorities for woodland planting need to be balanced against the biodiversity value of other habitat types to reflect the biodiversity emergency. There may be a role for enhanced guidance on decision making for woodland creation to help mitigate both long- and short-term environmental effects in relation to this, and on guiding species type in relation to maximising carbon sequestration, and climate change risk from pests and disease.

Potential environmental effects from the decarbonisation of Scottish industry could include localised adverse impacts on some topic areas from project level construction and infrastructure improvement works. Potential impacts can be mitigated by ensuring the development of appropriate guidance in relation to environmental effects from the development of new technologies in relation to existing mechanisms such as the planning system, SEPA regulation, EIA, HRA, guidance and on-site management measures.

Negative Emissions Technologies bring benefits primarily in relation to climatic factors and material assets, but also for population and human health as a result of associated benefits for air quality. However, policies and proposals supporting bioenergy such as biomass may have mixed effects in relation to air quality. Ensuring appropriate levels of regulation of biomass installations will mitigate potential environmental effects.

There are a wide range of benefits across the built environment, with synergy between positive effects for climatic factors and population and human health for domestic buildings through increased energy efficiency and lower fuel costs. An area based co-ordinated approach such as that promoted by Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme, will also help to mitigate this potential impact on cultural heritage from retrofitting buildings through the consideration of cumulative impacts.

Decarbonising transport has largely positive effects in relation to climatic factors, population and human health, and air, with key synergies between reductions in emissions, improved air quality and increased active travel. Opportunities to enhance the positive effects are associated with co-ordination of local actions to achieve a strongly integrated transport network.

Waste has largely positive effects in relation to climatic factors and material assets as a result of overall reductions in waste generated. Mitigation of environmental effects from developing new recycling and waste management facilities may be achieved through focusing development on existing sites or brownfield land.

Next Steps

Consultation responses to the Environmental report can be submitted via the Scottish Government Citizen Space website address https://consult.gov.scot/. Responses can be also be submitted by email, with the Respondent Information Form (Appendix E) to: climate_change@gov.scot or by post to:

Climate Change Plan update SEA Consultation
Climate Change Plan Team, 3F South
Scottish Government
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh
EH6 6QQ


Contact

Email: climate_change@gov.scot