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