Find out when the Environment Agency must be consulted, by a plan-maker, when they are determining whether a plan / programme requires SEA.
When should the Environment Agency be involved?
The statutory consultation bodies (see link below), including the Environment Agency, only play a role in screening under the following circumstances:
- Plans / programmes that would normally automatically require SEA (Article 3.2a / b), but which determine the use of small areas at a local level, or are minor modifications to the existing plan / prgramme.
- Plans / programes outside the 'core scope' of the Directive that set the framework for future development consent of projects (Article 3.4).
What role do we play?
In the above circumstances we must be consulted to provide our opinion on whether the plan / programme is likely to have significant effects on the environment (see Contact Us link below). [Note: It is not our role, nor that of any of the statutory consultation bodies, to decide whether a plan / programme requires SEA; this is the role of those responsible for developing the plan.]
Where, as a result of a screening consultation, we determine that significant environmental effects are likely this will be highlighted and explained in in our response. The screening determination is still made by the plan-maker; however where we have identified that the plan / programme is likely to lead to significant environmental effects we anticipate the screening determination will indicate that SEA is required.
How do we identify whether significant environmental effects are likely?
Clearly this will be on a case by case basis and will vary dependent on the:
- Objectives of the plan / programme
- Characteristics of the environment within the area the plan / programme will affect
- Characteristics of the potential effects of the plan / programme
We will advise on those aspects of the environment within our remit (see link below). In order to facilitate the screening process, we would welcome information from plan makers regarding the proposed scope and objectives of the plan / programme in question. Annex II of the Directive (see link below) sets out 'significance criteria' that we use to help guide our analysis of the plans potential to lead to significant environmental effects.
We will prepare a screening opinion based on these significance criteria and our internal guidance, using expert judgement and local knowledge from technical and other specialists. We may use a risk-based approach to determine significance based on the likelihood and consequence of environmental risks associated with the plan / programme.