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Planning must encourage sustainable development and work with the ...
Planning must encourage sustainable development and work with the

environment, planning minister Keith Hill said at the launch of new

guidance today.

The guidance advises planning authorities on how to meet the

requirements of the European Directive on Strategic Environment

Assessment (SEA), which will apply to development plans when it comes

into force next year. It will form a key part of the sustainable

development agenda for the new planning system.

Mr Hill said:

'Sustainable development must be at the centre of the planning system

and the environment at the forefront. Successful, thriving

communities must work with not against the environment.

'Our new guidance will help local authorities meet the challenges of

the Directive, get value from it and use it in making their plans

sustainable. I would like to thank the many people in the planning

community who have worked hard with us to develop this guidance.'

Resources have been made available to planning authorities to help

them comply with the Directive. Other bodies which have key roles in

SEA, including the Environment Agency, are actively preparing for

their new tasks.


1. Under the 'strategic environmental assessment' or SEA Directive

(2001/42/EC), a range of plans and programmes will face a thorough

assessment of their environmental effects before they can be adopted.

The SEA Directive, which takes effect from July 2004, will apply to

land use and spatial plans in both the present planning system and

that proposed under the Planning Bill. It also covers a range of

public sector plans and programmes in areas including energy,

industry, transport, waste and water management.

2. The need to introduce SEA in the middle of the biggest reform of

the planning system for 50 years created special difficulties. The

guidance had to be relevant to both the existing system of

development plans and the proposed Local Development D ocuments. It

can also be used by authorities at both local and regional levels, so

it can be applied to regional spatial strategies.

3. The Directive has also had an impact on the development of our

plans for sustainability appraisal, which we intend to make mandatory

for LDDS and RSSs under the new system. In the long run, SEA will be

fully incorporated into sustainability appraisals, but meanwhile our

guidance shows how SEA can be expanded into a Sustainability

Appraisal, and how the differences between these two types of

analysis can be reconciled.

4. The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern

Ireland are responsible for planning in their respective areas. ODPM

is working with them to implement the Directive.

5. The ODPM is currently drafting regulations to implement the

Directive. A consultation paper will follow shortly. We are also

preparing generic guidance for sectors other than planning.

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