Sustainability Appraisal


Sustainability Appraisal

Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment

Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is a requirement of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, with Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) deriving from the European Union Directive 2001/42/EC. It is common practice in the UK to combine the two processes into one, which is referred to as Sustainability Appraisal (SA). This process incorporates the requirements of the SEA Directive.

The Council is required by law to produce a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) (incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)) for all of its Local Plan (2011-2028) documents except for the Statement of Community Involvement, the Annual Monitoring Report, Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) and the Local Development Scheme.

Sustainability Appraisal of the Local Plan 'Core Strategy'

Sustainability Appraisal has been undertaken throughout the preparation of the Core Strategy.

In support of the Core Strategy process beginning at that time, the first SA Scoping Report underwent statutory consultation in August 2006. This set out the context and objectives for the SA, collected baseline data and identified key issues / problems for the District and devised a Sustainability Appraisal Framework against which options and strategies can be tested. An updated revision of the Scoping Report was issued to the statutory consultees in December 2007 and this was approved in February 2008 and published in June 2008. In addition, it should be noted that the Proposed Submission Core Strategy SA (August 2011) updated many of the elements of the Scoping Report, including:

  • Reviewing list of Relevant Policies, Plans, Strategies and Programmes (See Section 3 and Appendix 7 of August 2011 PSCS SA)
  • Updated Baseline Information (Appendix 1)
  • SA Framework (Appendix 2)
  • Spatial Portrait (Section 3)

The SA of the Proposed Submission Core Strategy was published alongside the Core Strategy consultation in the 12 week period 19th August 2011 to 11th November 2011.

Comments were previously invited on the Initial SA Report which was made available alongside the Core Strategy 'Consultation on Strategy Directions' during the twelve-week consultation period 7th November 2008 - 30th January 2009.  Previous comments made on the Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal as part of the consultation are still available to view via this website.

In June 2012, the Council published 'focused amendments' to the Core Strategy, which includes amendments to the SA. These were incorporated in the revised 'Proposed Submission Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal (incorporating the focused amendments)' published in June 2012. In January2013, a further 'Sustainability Appraisal of the Council's proposed modifications' was undertaken.

Most recently, in July 2013 a 'Sustainability Appraisal of the Council's Proposed Revised Modifications' was presented to RDC Full Council. This supplements earlier SA's and supports the Council's proposed revised modifications to the Core Strategy's housing provisions in particular.

Post-Adoption SEA Statement

In accordance with Regulation 16 of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004, the Council has prepared a pdf icon Post-Adoption SEA Statement [97kb]. It effectively tells the story of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process and its relationship with the Rother District Council's Local Plan Core Strategy.

Sustainability Appraisal of the Development and Site Allocations (DaSA) Local Plan

Development and Site Allocations Local Plan, SA Scoping Report

An updated SA Scoping Report is being produced in support of "Part Two" of the Local Plan - the Development and Site Allocations Plan (DaSA). This builds on and elaborates upon earlier SA Scoping information published to inform the Core Strategy (as set out in the following section below).

The Development and Site Allocations Local Plan SA Scoping Report has been refined over time  in consultation with the Environment Agency, Historic England (formerly English Heritage) and Natural England.

The Framework is developed as a basis for consideration of sites, policies and options in the Rother District area. Therefore it is also considered relevant and applicable to Neighbourhood Plans produced within the District, as well as the Development and Site Allocations Local Plan.

The current version is here: pdf icon DASA SA Scoping Report Update August 2016 [3Mb]

SA of DaSA - Options and Preferred Options

An SA has been produced alongside the DaSA Options and Preferred Options Public Consultation (until 20/02/17). See the Development and Site Allocations (DaSA) Local Plan page for details of how to respond.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Neighbourhood Plans

Unlike the situation for Rother District's Local Plan,  there is no legal requirement for a neighbourhood plan to have a sustainability appraisal (SA), as set out in section 19 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. However, a qualifying body must demonstrate how its plan or order will contribute to achieving sustainable development. So whilst a sustainability appraisal is not legally required, neighbourhood planning authorities may find that the sustainability appraisal approach is a useful way forward.

However, in certain circumstances, a Neighbourhood Plan may require a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) under EU regulations. Examples of where SEA may be required for Neighbourhood Plans, include:

  • Where a neighbourhood plan allocates sites for development
  • Where the neighbourhood area contains sensitive natural or heritage assets that may be affected by the proposals in the plan
  • Where the neighbourhood plan is likely to have significant environmental effects that have not already been considered and dealt with through a sustainability appraisal of the Local Plan

Draft neighbourhood plan proposals should be assessed to determine whether the plan is likely to have significant environmental effects and this process is commonly referred to as a "screening" assessment. The requirements are set out in regulation 9 of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004. Rother District Council (as the responsible authority) will undertake the screening assessment, consulting with the statutory environmental bodies (Natural England, Environment Agency, Historic England).

A Neighbourhood Planning authority should request a screening assessment as soon as sufficient information on its potential environmental effects are known. Rother District Council has provided a form - pdf icon Neighbourhood Plan SEA Screening Request Form [672kb] - that should usefully accompany applications for a screening opinion.

If likely significant environmental effects are identified, an SEA must be prepared. One of the basic conditions that will be tested by an independent examiner is whether the making of the neighbourhood plan is compatible with European Union obligations (including under the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive).

In the event of a SEA being required, Rother District Council (as the responsible authority) will also advise, on  a case by case basis, which 'objectives' it considers appropriate to 'screen in' based on the circumstances of the Neighbourhood Plan and it's area in question.  These  objectives will be selected  from  the list of 16 contained within the Rother DC DASA Scoping Report.

Where it is determined that a SEA must be carried out, work on this should start at the earliest opportunity. This is so that the processes for gathering evidence for the environmental report and for producing the draft neighbourhood plan can be integrated, and to allow the assessment process to inform the choices being made in the plan.


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