Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
In Scotland, public bodies and private companies operating in a public character, such as utility companies, are required to assess, consult on, and monitor the likely impacts their plans, programmes and strategies will have on the environment. This process is known as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
SEA helps to better protect the environment, aims to ensure that any development is sustainable, and increases opportunities for public participation in decision-making. It ensures that expert views are sought at various points in the preparation process from the public and the consultation authorities, who are as follows:
- Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) – read about SNH's role in SEA
- Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) – read about SEPA's role in SEA
- Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – read about HES's role in SEA
SEA Gateway and database
We established the SEA Gateway to manage the formal correspondence between the authority responsible for the plan, programme or strategy and the consultation authorities (SEPA, SNH and HES), and to ensure the information is recorded and publicly available on the SEA Database.
The SEA Gateway also looks after Scottish Ministers' interests in SEA, produces SEA guidance, and resolves potential areas of conflict between the responsible authority and the consultation authorities.
Review of SEA within development planning
We appointed Land Use Consultants (LUC) to undertake a study of SEA within development planning. The study seeks to identify opportunities for delivering proportionality in terms of offering supporting environmental information, which was a recommendation for the review of the Scottish planning system.
In January 2017 we circulated an online survey to known stakeholders, to gather views on SEA within development planning from a wide range of experienced practitioners and decision makers within the planning sector.
Further updates will be published on this page in due course.
We have published the following guidance for SEA:
Planning Advice Note 1/2010: Strategic environmental assessment of development plans aims to help those who are undertaking an SEA of a strategic or local development plan.
The SEA: integrating an ecosystems approach information note provides advice on how to integrate an ecosystems approach into an SEA.
The consultation authorities have published guidance on specific topics, as follows:
- Guidance on consideration of air in SEA (from SEPA)
- Guidance on consideration of soil in SEA (from SEPA)
- Guidance on consideration of water in SEA (from SEPA)
- Consideration of climatic factors within SEA (from SEPA)
- Landscape considerations in SEA (from SNH)
- Biodiversity and geodiversity considerations in SEA (from SNH)
- Guidance on consideration of material assets in SEA (from SEPA)
- Guidance on consideration of human health in SEA (from SEPA)