Screening neighbourhood plans for Strategic Environmental Assessment

To be ‘made’, a neighbourhood plan must meet certain Basic Conditions.  These include that the making of the plan “does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations.” 

One of these obligations is Directive 2001/42/EC ‘on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment’. This is often referred to as the strategic environmental assessment (or SEA) Directive. The SEA Directive “seeks to provide a high level of protection of the environment by integrating environmental considerations into the process of preparing plans and programmes.” The SEA Directive is transposed into UK law through the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations (the ‘SEA Regulations’) and it is these regulations that the plan will need to be compatible with. A key stage in the neighbourhood planning process is determining whether or not SEA is required.

This guide sets out how neighbourhood groups, including Parish and Town Councils and Neighbourhood Forums, can conclude whether an SEA is required for their neighbourhood plan and the next steps it should take having made this determination. The process for deciding whether or not an SEA is necessary is referred to as ‘screening’.  This document sets out a step-wise approach to screening a neighbourhood plan for SEA, possible formats to help document the screening process, a glossary of key terms, and resources and contacts to help neighbourhood planners through the screening process.

Screening neighbourhood plans for strategic environmental assessment (613.5KB pdf)

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