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Consideration of climatic factors within Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

Published: 19 Mar 2010
Directorate:
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change
ISBN:
9780755978748

Guidance on the consideration of climatic factors within Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), developed by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

26 page PDF

494.6 kB

26 page PDF

494.6 kB

Contents
Consideration of climatic factors within Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
10. ASSESSMENT

26 page PDF

494.6 kB

10. ASSESSMENT

10.1 The environmental report provides the findings of the assessment, identifying the likely significant effects of a PPS, and the reasonable alternatives to it, on all relevant environmental topic areas. The assessment of climatic factors should seek to identify the key ways in which the PPS is likely to increase or reduce greenhouse gas emissions or where it is increasing or decreasing the resilience to future environmental change caused by changes in climate.

Understanding the potential effects of the PPS on climatic factors

10.2 The first step within the assessment involves identifying the strategic actions which could have an impact on climatic factors. This will vary between different types of plan, but the questions set out in Figure 6 provide a useful point of reference for identifying where these interactions might take place. To ensure the assessment also takes into account scope for adaptation, should also consider the potential effects of climate change on the area and sectors covered by the plan. Appendix 1 explains these interactions in more detail.

10.3 As a further point of reference, for those who are embarking on an assessment, Figures 9 - 12 (next pages) highlight potential links between actions within different types of PPS and climate change. This is not an exhaustive list, but these tables show that different plans interact with climatic factors in different ways. By highlighting possible positive as well as negative effects, the tables can be used to help identify the best possible options for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Alternatives

10.4 Consideration of reasonable alternatives within the assessment is required by the 2005 Act. This offers an opportunity to explain the contribution that different options may have for addressing climate change. Whilst the likely effects on climatic factors should ideally influence the content of the PPS, it is recognised that this is just one of many issues that need to be taken into account. In some cases, the best option in relation to climate change may differ from the one which is preferred in relation to other environmental topic areas. SEA provides a means of evaluating this and making the choice of options transparent.

Plan Type

Climate Change Mitigation

Climate Change Adaptation

Reduce all GHG emissions

Reduce impact of transport through a reduction in the need to travel and modal shift

Reduce energy use, increasing energy efficiency and enabling renewable energy generation

Reduce resource use (e.g. Reducing waste to landfill)

Reduce carbon loss from soils

Resilience to increase in precipitation flood risk and flooding

Resilience to increase in high winds and storminess

Resilience to warmer climate, droughts and heat waves

Resilience to erosion and landslides

Development Plans (Strategic Development Plans ( SDP), Local Development Plans ( LDP) and Supplementary Guidance ( SG) as indicated)

Make efficient use of existing infrastructure to reduce the need for additional facilities with associated emissions from pumping / treatment ( SDP/ LDP)

Promote high energy efficiency standards ( LDP)

Use solar gain through layout and design ( LDP/ SG)

Smaller housing at higher density ( LDP/ SG)

Tree planting and protection ( LDP/ SG)

Promote development patterns that reduce need to travel ( SDP/ LDP)

Promote mixed use development ( LDP)

Allocate sites close to existing public transport routes ( LDP)

Prioritise the reuse of brownfield land ( SDP/ LDP)

Support car free developments ( LDP)

Provide spatial framework for renewables development in appropriate locations ( LDP/ SG)

Support provision of micro-renewables on buildings or in developments ( LDP/ SG)

Encourage Combined Heat and Power ( SDP/ LDP/ SG)

Provide spatial framework for new waste facilities such as recycling, composting and thermal treatment ( SDP/ LDP)

Help to reduce waste in development of new buildings and encourage the reuse of construction waste ( LDP/ SG)

Protect high carbon soils from loss / sealing through new development ( LDP)

Restrict commercial peat extraction ( LDP/ SG)

Avoid building in flood risk areas ( LDP)

Increase resilience to floods through use of Sustainable Drainage Systems ( LDP/ SG)

Ensure that any new essential infrastructure and service developments are not at flood risk ( LDP/ SG)

Permeable surfaces and greenspace in new developments ( LDP/ SG)

Ensure development takes into account drainage and sewerage infrastructure capacity in light of any possible increase in storm events ( LDP)

Avoid development in coastal areas at risk of current and future flooding ( SDP/ LDP)

Avoid development patterns that fragment habitat corridors for the movement of species and seek to enhance where possible ( SDP/ LDP)

Encourage design for environmental performance - reduce need for cooling and help to address urban heat island effect ( LDP/ SG)

Encourage the greater use of green roofs, protect and expand greenspace and tree cover ( SG)

Consider future water needs and availability when planning new development ( SDP/ LDP)

Encourage use of rainwater and grey water ( LDP)

Avoid new development in areas at risk from erosion, including coastal erosion ( SDP/ LDP)

Protect and expand native woodland cover ( SDP / LDP/ SG)

Figure 9 - Typical influences on climatic factors from land use Development Plans

Plan Type

Climate Change Mitigation

Climate Change Adaptation

Reduce all GHG emissions

Reduce impact of transport through a reduction in the need to travel and modal shift

Reduce energy use, increasing energy efficiency and enabling renewable energy generation

Reduce resource use (e.g. Reducing waste to landfill)

Reduce carbon loss from soils

Resilience to increase in precipitation, flood risk and flooding

Resilience to increase in high winds and storminess

Resilience to warmer climate, droughts and heat waves

Resilience to erosion and landslides

Transport Plans

Reduce emissions from transport sector through technological change

Improve energy efficiency of transport systems

Improve
fuel efficiency

Provide an effective and integrated public transport system

Provide transport choices to encourage modal shift

Encourage walking and cycling

Demand management schemes

Encourage car sharing

Green travel plans

Encourage use of renewable sources of fuel - e.g. sustainably sourced / alternative fuels

Manage construction and demolition waste generated during infrastructure sustainably

Consider the impact on carbon rich soils from transport developments

Ensure existing transport infrastructure is protected from future flood risk

Ensure that new transport infrastructure is located in areas that are not at risk of flooding or where flood mitigation measures can be implemented

Ensure new transport infrastructure considers increased high winds and storminess

Ensure that new transport infrastructure is designed and located to withstand future changes in climate e.g. roads resistant to warmer temperatures

Provision of habitat corridors for the movement of biodiversity

Avoid developing new transport infrastructure in areas at risk from erosion, including coastal erosion

Figure 10 - Typical influences on climatic factors from transport plans

Plan Type

Climate Change Mitigation

Climate Change Adaptation

Reduce all GHG emissions

Reducing impact of transport through a reduction in the need to travel and modal shift

Reducing energy use, increasing energy efficiency and enabling renewable energy generation

Reducing resource use (e.g. Reducing waste to landfill)

Reduce carbon loss from soils

Resilience to increase in precipitation flood risk and flooding

Resilience to increase in high winds and storminess

Resilience to warmer climate, droughts and heat waves

Resilience to erosion and landslides

Energy and Resources (including minerals) and Waste Planning

Improve energy efficiency

Reduce demand for energy

Develop
new technologies such as carbon capture and storage

Improve the energy performance of buildings

Transport emissions from resource development and waste management

Modal shift to more sustainable transport of waste

Provide a policy framework to support renewable energy development

Use of Combined Heat and Power ( CHP) / energy from waste

Renewables obligation

Energy production via thermal treatment of waste will reduce landfill and generate power

Increase recycling

levels

Protect peat soils from loss / sealing from energy developments (e.g. windfarms)

Increase river flows in some areas for hydropower

Ensure supply is protected from disruption from floods

Take into account through design and specification of infrastructure

Take account of lower river flows for hydropower

Provide habitat corridors that would allow movement of biodiversity

Ensure generation and supply is protected from disruption from landslides

Figure 11 - Typical influences on climatic factors from energy and resource plans

Plan Type

Climate Change Mitigation

Climate Change Adaptation

Reduce all GHG emissions

Reducing impact of transport through a reduction in the need to travel and modal shift

Reducing energy use, increasing energy efficiency and enabling renewable energy generation

Reducing resource use (e.g. Reducing waste to landfill)

Reduce carbon loss from soils

Resilience to increase in precipitation flood risk and flooding

Resilience to increase in high winds and storminess

Resilience to warmer climate, droughts and heat waves

Resilience to erosion and landslides

General e.g. agriculture, forestry, economic development, corporate strategies etc…

Reduce methane emissions from livestock (e.g. agriculture plans)

Development of low carbon technologies (e.g. economic development)

Energy demands from business (economic development)

Reduce need to transport crops / timber long distances (agriculture, forestry)

Transport resources using more sustainable modes (agriculture, forestry)

Providing biomass as a substitute for fossil fuels (forestry)

Reduce farm waste (agriculture plans)

Protect areas contributing to net sink for carbon from damaging agricultural or forestry activities

Protect peatland from forestry or agricultural uses (forestry and agriculture plans)

Flooding affecting supply of goods and services (economic development)

Disruption of goods and services supply by increased storm events (economic development plans)

Preparing organisation for future climate e.g. through risk management (corporate plan)

Provide habitat corridors that would allow movement of biodiversity

Design for environmental performance - reduce need for cooling

Identify area that may be vulnerable to landslides and consider how forestry could reduce that risk (forestry)

Figure 12 - Typical influences on climatic factors from other types of plans

Assessment Methods

Climate Change Mitigation

Generic example: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Plan specific example (e.g. transport): To reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from [insert sector]

Target based example: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from [transport] by XX% by [date].

Climate Change Adaptation

Generic example: To reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change

Plan specific example (e.g. spatial plans): To reduce vulnerability of people and property in the plan area to flooding

Target based example: to reduce the number of properties at risk of flooding by XX by [date]

Figure 13 - Examples of SEA Objectives

10.5 Having established the relevant existing and potential strategic actions of the PPS and the possible alternatives to it, the next step involves considering how the plan might affect the existing environmental baseline. The description of the baseline can be established using information sources outlined earlier in this guidance. In the interests of proportionality and conciseness, the baseline description should be confined to information which is relevant to the level of PPS being considered (i.e. what is the PPS likely to significantly influence?)

10.6 To highlight where the actions from the PPS connect with the baseline, many assessments are structured using a set of defined ' SEA objectives'. Where this approach is used, objectives should cover both climate change mitigation and adaptation as appropriate. The SEA Tool Kit provides examples of possible objectives for this topic area. Figures 13 and 14 provide additional examples and some supporting questions that can be used to explore the likely effects of a PPS on climate change related objectives. These should be selected and adapted to suit different types of PPS. Applying few pertinent objectives to highlight the most significant effects of the PPS, is preferable to a broader assessment which loses sight of the most relevant and significant effects of the PPS.

Question: Will the plan, programme or strategy…

Climate Change Mitigation

reduce the need for energy?

improve energy efficiency in the sector?

increase the percentage of energy generated from renewable sources?

support a switch to lower carbon fuels?

reduce the amount of waste going to landfill (to reduce methane emissions)?

improve land use practices to reduce emissions?

protect natural carbon sinks such as peat soils?

encourage transport choice and promote modal shift?

consider the carbon impact in the construction phase?

consider the carbon impact of adaptation measures?

Climate Change Adaptation

reduce overall flood risk e.g. developing in flood plain, flood protection schemes?

consider present and future climate impacts in the design of buildings and urban areas e.g. green roofs, urban greenspace, sustainable urban drainage?

consider present and future climate impacts for infrastructure e.g. transport?

provide adequate health services?

ensure adequate future water and drainage supply?

avoid actions that may close or limit future adaptation?

develop ecologically resilient and varied landscapes e.g. ecological networks, drainage?

consider opportunities presented from climate change impacts?

Figure 14 - Further examples of SEA objectives

10.7 However, in some cases, an objectives based approach to the assessment may not be the best way of identifying the effects of some types of PPS on climatic factors. For example, the following methods may be more appropriate in certain situations:

  • Assessments of high-level, strategic PPS could explore climatic factors thematically, providing a commentary on the current baseline, future predictions, and simply evaluating the likely effects in a descriptive way that draws on available evidence as appropriate.
  • Use of tools that measure greenhouse gas emissions, therefore enabling a more quantified comparison between different options may also be helpful. Under its ongoing local footprint project, the Sustainable Scotland Network is exploring ways in which this can be achieved in a series of example projects.
  • Adaptation issues may be more appropriately explored by considering the PPS in spatial terms, taking into account mapped baseline information such as future flood risk and the UKCIP09 scenarios.

Secondary, cumulative and synergistic effects

10.8 As required by Schedule 3(6e) of the 2005 Act, it is also important to consider the secondary, cumulative and synergistic effects of the PPS. Figure 15 below provides some examples of the types of effects which are relevant to climatic factors.

Cumulative

Combined effects of small unco-ordinated measures to adapt may combine to decrease resilience - e.g. incremental loss of floodplain through individual decisions on development, which may lead to increased flood risk elsewhere.

Cumulative

Combined effects of small increases in greenhouse gas emissions caused by individual decisions - e.g. incremental increase in emissions from new road schemes.

Cumulative

Combined effects of a number of renewable energy developments in one area based on individual decisions - e.g. incremental impact on habitats, species and the water environment

Indirect / Secondary

Ensuring that measures to adapt to climate change do not compromise ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - e.g. emissions resulting from construction of major flood prevention schemes.

Indirect

Increasing emissions resulting from other environmental improvements - e.g. greater treatment of waste water will improve water quality at point of discharge, but require more energy and emissions to achieve it.

Indirect

Increasing coastal erosion in one area as a result of improving coastal protection in another area.

Figure 15 - Examples of cumulative and other effects

Mitigation

10.9 A very valuable part of SEA is considering ways in which any adverse effects of a PPS can be addressed through mitigation. Taking action to address climate change now, is expected to be much cheaper over the long term than inaction.

10.10 Where PPS are found to have adverse effects on climatic factors, it is important that mitigation measures are identified and implemented. Such measures might include:

  • alterations to the PPS to ensure the adverse effects are avoided or, where possible, it makes a positive contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to building resilience to the impacts of climate change;
  • measures to be consistently enacted in higher or lower tier PPSs;
  • measures to be enacted through other actions (e.g. Environmental Impact Assessment); or
  • compensatory measures (e.g. use of compensatory storage where part of a functional floodplain is lost).

10.11 Enhancement of the PPS to ensure it contributes positively to climate change mitigation and adaptation is also recommended. The SEA could recommend that the PPS incorporates further commitments to positive actions that had not previously been considered. Figures 9-12 again provide a useful resource for ensuring that the potential contribution of the plan is maximised in this way.