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SEA in Scotland, SA in England → Sustainability? (updated with results)

Overview of my PhD research updated to present the final conclusions (although with a nod to changes along the way and the many 'initial findings' before arriving at final recommendations.

Samuel Hayes

on 10 March 2017

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Transcript of SEA in Scotland, SA in England → Sustainability? (updated with results)

To investigate and compare the
or purposes of SA and SEA.
To investigate and compare the
and practices of SA and SEA.
Map and compare the

of actors
and organisations engaged in SA and SEA.
Comparative analysis of SA and SEA
To consider the extent to which SA and SEA contribute to the consideration of sustainability and sustainable development in plan formulation.
The purpose of sustainability appraisal, 'is to promote sustainable development through the integration of social, environmental and economic considerations into the preparation of […] Development Plan Documents' (ODPM, 2005, p. 13)
SEA in Scotland, SA in England→ Sustainability?
Introduction to the research
How I tackled the issue
Strategic assessment should support;
Good governance and effective decision making
Policy, plan and programme formulation
Strong representation of the environment
Failings of Environmental Impact Assessment
Difficulties with cumulative, synergistic, indirect, long-range, delayed and global
Foreclosure of alternatives by project stage
Progress towards sustainable development
Brown, A. L. (2000) Integrating crosscutting issues in the environmental assessment of development assistance projects. In: Lee, N. & Kirkpatrick, C. (eds.) Sustainable development and integrated appraisal in a developing world. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
CLG 2008. Planning Policy Statement 12: creating strong safe and prosperous communities through Local Spatial Planning. In: Department of Communities and Local Government (ed.). London: The Stationary Office
CLG. 2009. CLG Plan making manual: Sustainability Appraisal [Online]. Communities and Local Government. Available: http://www.pas.gov.uk/pas/core/page.do?pageId=152450 [Accessed 15.04.2010].
Counsell, D. & Haughton, G. 2006. Sustainable development in regional planning: The search for new tools and renewed legitimacy. Geoforum, 37, 921-931.
Fischer, T. (2007) Theory and Practice of Strategic Environmental Assessment: towards a more systematic approach, London; Sterling, VA, Earthscan.
Gibson, R. B. (2006) Beyond the Pillars: Sustainability Assessment as a Framework for Effective Intergration of Social, Economic and Ecological Considerations in Significant Decision-Making. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy & Management, 8, 259-280.
Hacking, T. & Guthrie, P. 2008. A framework for clarifying the meaning of Triple Bottom-Line, Integrated, and Sustainability Assessment. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 28, 73-89.
Morrison-Saunders, A. & Fischer, T. (2006) What is wrong with EIA and SEA anyway? A sceptic's perspective on sustainability assessment, Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 8 19-39.
ODPM 2005. Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Documents, London: ODPM Publications.
RCEP 2002. Twenty Third Report: Environmental Planning London: Royal Commission on Environment and Pollution.
Scottish Executive 2006. Strategic Environmental Assessment Tool Kit. Scottish Executive.
Scottish Government 2005. Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act. In: PARLIAMENT, T. S. (ed.) Scottish Statutory Instrument No 258. London: HMSO.
Scottish Government 2010. Planning Advice Note 1/2010: Strategic Environmental Assessment of Development Plans.
Thérivel, R., WIlson, E., Thompson, S., Heaney, D. & Pritchard, D. 1992. Strategic Environmental Assessment London, Earthscan Publications Ltd.
UK Government 2004. Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. In: GOVERNMENT, U. (ed.). London The Stationary Office
Wood, C. 2003. Environmental impact assessment: A Comparative Review, Harlow, Prentice Hall.
SA may lead to 'double dipping' of certain factors
Marginalisation of the environment - curtailing benefits of environment focused assessment
Should SA seek to balance impacts?
Integration may help consideration of cross cutting and interconnected issues
Influenced by the individual
SA should reflect Sustainability - integrative
Influenced by definition of sustainability
PhD funded by a University of Manchester, School of Environment and Development scholarship award
Institutional thinking
Initial Impressions
'The purpose of the sustainability appraisal process is to appraise the social, environmental and economic effects of a plan from the outset. In doing so it will help ensure that decisions are made that contribute to achieving sustainable development.'
(CLG, 2009)
'19 Preparation of local development documents
(a) carry out an appraisal of the sustainability of the proposals in each document;
(b) prepare a report of the findings of the appraisal.'
(UK Government, 2004, p. 12)
(5) The local planning authority must also—
'An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for the assessment of the environmental effects of certain plans and programmes, including plans and programmes to which Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council relates; and for connected purposes.' (Scottish Government, 2005, p. 1)
'the formalised, systematic and comprehensive process of evaluating the environmental impacts of a policy, plan or programme and its alternatives, including the preparation of a written report of the findings of that evaluation.' (Thérivel et al., 1992, p. 19-20)
Hacking and Guthrie (2008) described alternative forms of assessment as processes aimed at directing decisions towards sustainability
Regulatory compliance commonly cited as reason for doing SEA and SA
Additional aims/purposes also listed including;
assessing the range of impacts of a plan;
establishing the most sustainable option;
checking the sustainability of the direction of their plan;
looking for unintended consequences; and
protecting under represented topics.

Those with additional purpose seem to describe SEA/SA more favourably
Guidance used - compliance
Consultants knowledge of process valuable
Close working arrangements benefitted process - particularly with consultants and early contact with stakeholders/consultees
Often one key individual - mixed effects
Process & people
Post-adoption reports clear about influence
Respondants less so
Marginal influence around edges
Weak against predetermined plan vision
Plan sustainable already
Thank you.
Some findings
Regulatory compliance commonly cited as part of purpose for completing SEA and SA
Procedural purposes;
identifying impacts and effects, documenting the process, enabling consultation, and considering options and alternatives
Substantive aims/purposes were listed;
assessing the range of impacts of a plan (SA);
establishing the most sustainable option (SA);
checking the sustainability of the direction of their plan, retrospective check of policies (SA);
finding best environmental option (SEA);
acting as an environmental advocate (SEA); and
protecting under represented topics (SA).
Respondents, to a large extent, seem to reflect the purpose of their own system/organisation
Different procedural and substantive outcomes
Identifying impacts/effects/baseline
documenting, communicating, adding transparency
Marginal influence? Policy wording changes
Challenging established principles of the plan is difficult
Higher tiers, political will, acceptance that come conflict is inherent
Breadth of assessment objectives
Largely represent National system
Related to purpose - what role does/should assessment have?
Dealing with conflicts
Influenced by greater breadth?
Close working relationships key
Limit to number of people who can be usefully/meaningfully involved (SA).
Often one key individual - mixed effects.
Experience of SEA/SA beneficial - more skills after process.
Loss of personnel common and problematic.
The Black
EU SEA Directive
‘SEA – its purpose and objectives
2.2.5 The purpose of SEA is to ensure that information on the significant environmental effects of a PPS is gathered and made available to decision-makers, both as the PPS is prepared and prior to its adoption. SEA is therefore a key component of sustainable development, focused on protecting the environment. SEA also extends opportunities for participation in public policy decision-making and increases transparency.'
(Scottish Executive, 2006, c. 2 p. 6)
“The central aim of SEA is to help ensure that the environment is given the same level of consideration as social and economic factors within the plan.” (The Scottish Government, 2010, p. 2)
To consider the extent to which Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment contribute to transition to sustainable development or sustainability in development planning.
To investigate and analyse the purpose, or purposes, of SA and SEA
To map and analyse the network of actors and organisations engaged in SA and SEA
To undertake a comparative analysis of processes, practices, and outcomes of SA and SEA
Strategic assessment should be conducted early in plan formulation processes in order to enable consideration of underlying values and assumptions before decisions are foreclosed. This also requires that those engaged with plan formulation processes are willing to reflect on, and scrutinise, the underlying assumptions and values of plans.
Strategic assessment should also be applied at multiple tiers of PPP formulation, paying close attention to connectivity and communication between tiers.
Strategic assessment should also engage with issues of scale in order to negotiate action for complex sustainability challenges, enabling discussion and negotiation between different scales, perspectives and imperatives.
Assessment breadth should be broad, taking an integrated view of sustainability in order promote an integrated understanding of sustainability.
Strategic assessment should incorporate a strong interpretation of sustainability in order to ensure environmental protection and increase its contribution to sustainability transition.
Strategic assessment should be empowered, raising its ambition and focusing its attention on sustainability transition.
Article 1
The objective of this Directive is to provide a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development by ensuring that, in accordance with this Directive, an environmental assessment is carried out of certains pland and programmes which are likely to have significant effects on the environment.
Case study selection
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