What is a Sustainability Appraisal or Strategic Environment Assessment?

Sustainable development is central to the reformed planning system. The purpose of Sustainability Appraisal (SA), mandatory under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, is to promote sustainable development through the integration of social, environmental and economic considerations. SA is required to be undertaken in preparation of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and for new or revised Development Plan Documents (DPD) and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) within the Local Development Framework.

European Directive 2001/42/EC, known as the "Strategic Environmental Assessment" or "SEA" Directive, requires a formal environmental assessment of certain plans and programmes which are likely to have significant effects upon the environment. The Directive applies to plans and programmes whose preparation began on or after 21 July 2004, and also retrospectively to those whose formal preparation began before this date but which have not been adopted, or submitted to a legislative procedure leading to adoption by 21 July 2006.

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