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Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

Strategic Environmental Assessment, Habitats Regulations Appraisal and biodiversity duty

The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires all public bodies to demonstrate how they have considered the potential environmental effects of their plans, programmes and strategies, using the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process. The assessment of environmental effects is not limited to nature and wildlife - consideration of effects on other matters is also required, for example effects on population and human health. Both positive and negative effects should be considered, as well as cumulative effects with other plans or developments.

SEA should be used during the plan preparation stage to identify where significant environmental effects might occur. This enables early draft plans to be amended to avoid or mitigate significant adverse effects, and to identify where opportunities for positive effects might occur. It is beneficial to carry out other statutory environmental appraisals in parallel with the SEA, for example Habitats Regulations Appraisal, which has different requirements that can influence and inform the SEA (and vice versa).

SEA is also helpful in relation to the Council’s statutory duty to further the conservation of biodiversity (known as biodiversity duty). By incorporating biodiversity into SEA, each plan that is subject to SEA will by default include consideration of effects on biodiversity. Potential adverse effects on biodiversity can be identified and alternatives or mitigation to reduce the effects identified. Opportunities to incorporate positive effects on biodiversity into the plan are also promoted.

Information about the SEA and HRA processes can be found on the Scottish Government and NatureScot websites using the links found in the ‘Related sites (external websites’ section at the bottom of this page.

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