Johanna Curran presentation

21st July 2014
SEA: Avoiding the Pitfalls
A Practitioners Perspective
Johanna Curran
Senior Manager
About Me
SA and SEA
Common Pitfalls
Case Studies
Avoiding the Pitfalls
About Me
• Assessment at all strategic levels of
• Advice at examination and response
to challenges
• Regular review and verification work
– West Northamptonshire Joint Core
Strategy SA
– East of England SA Plan Repair
– Severn Tidal Power SEA
– C-Scope Marine Spatial Plan SA
– Bulgarian Wind Power SEA
– Shama Bahia SEA, Abu Dhabi
SA/SEA Regulations
• SA of local plans required under section 19
Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004
• The National Planning Policy Framework also
requires SA of local plans
• Accepted practice to integrate requirements of
SA and SEA into a single assessment process
(Planning Practice Guidance updated 2014)
• SA must incorporate the requirements of the
Environmental Assessment of Plans and
Programmes Regulations 2004
SA/SEA Areas of Weakness
Size and complexity of the documents
Presentation of the assessment
Taking the results of the SA into account
Assessing all reasonable alternatives
Basing the assessment on
available and up to date information
• Identifying and
assessing cumulative
DCLG Effectiveness Study 2010
• An independent research report on the efficiency
and effectiveness of SA and SEA of spatial plans
• Plan-making and SA/SEA often viewed as parallel
but separate processes. Can lead to duplication
of effort
• Greater efficiency if more clear
integration with the
plan-making process
particularly during the early
SA/SEA would also be more efficient if:
• Evidence gathering focused on spatial information
to identify and appraise alternatives
• Appraisal focused on well thought out and clearly
articulated alternatives
• Scope tailored to the options under consideration
• Issues not likely to be significant were excluded
from the scope
• Appraisal detail proportionate to the level of detail
in the plan
• Integrate other appraisal processes – eg EqIA and
HIA where appropriate
Case Study:
West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy SA
• Large urban extension areas subject to SA
• Smaller sites within the large extensions taken
forward as chosen options in submission plan
• No SA undertaken of options within the large
extension sites
• EiP halted so that SA could be undertaken of
individual development parcels
Case Study:
Cherwell District Council Local Plan
• Alternatives assessment undertaken at issues and
options stage
• Detailed assessment of the preferred sites
• Decision made that the rejected sites should have
been subject to the same level of assessment
• The findings of the rejected options had to be
presented within the SA Report
Alternatives were assessed in the SEA of the core strategy but the
reasons for selecting them and their assessment was less detailed
than the assessment of the preferred option for growth - Heard v.
Broadland DC [2012] EWHC 344 (Admin) –
Case Study:
East Devon District Council Local Plan
• Core strategy organised into
areas and sites identified for
each area
• Certain areas have large
amount of public opposition
• Strategic identification of sites
has not considered potential
environmental issues
• Key issues highlighted in
earlier SA not addressed by
Case Study:
East of England Plan Repair
• First successful legal challenge
to an English regional
development plan (RSS)
• Not all reasonable alternatives
had been assessed in the
previous SA/SEA process
• Definition of reasonable
• Rigorous SA (incorporating
SEA) and HRA
• Reports reviewed by the
government’s Crown Barristers
and were found to be legally
Avoiding Pitfalls
• Engage with the SEA/SA process from the outset
• Timetable the SEA/SA with the plan so the
assessment stages are clear
• Define what is a reasonable alternative
• Regularly review the alternatives at each decisionmaking stage
• Clear concise and thorough presentation
• Use a legal review and involve a technical expert
Tricks of the Trade
• Whole plan assessment approach
• Site screening – efficient and focused approach to
identify “show stoppers”
• Moving away from matrices
• Participatory approach to appraisal
• Package assessment
• Clear presentation to make the document
• Clear audit trail
Challenge proof assessments
The SA and SEA was not challenged at this stage and we
would like to thank you for all the SA work you have
undertaken on our behalf to take the Local Plan to this
stage, including examination support work …The fact the
SA has to date not been challenged suggests that the hard
work ENVIRON has put into the SA, with the support of
officers, has undoubtedly been worthwhile.
Many thanks to the team for all the good work on the
Sustainability Appraisal and your support throughout the
Local Plan preparation.
Adrian Colwell MIED Head of Service Cherwell & South Northants District

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