Planning, building and the environment

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Sustainability Appraisal (SA)

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 into the preparation of revisions of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and for new or revised Development Plan Documents (DPD) and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD). 

In addition, when preparing RSS revisions or new and revised DPDs and SPDs, Regional Planning Bodies and Local Planning Authorities must also conduct an environmental assessment in accordance with the requirements of European Directive 2001/42/EC "on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment" (the Strategic Environmental Assessment or 'SEA Directive'), transposed by the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004

Whilst the requirement to carry out a SA and a SEA are distinct, it is possible to satisfy both through a single appraisal process. Guidance has been produced (see below) to ensure that SAs meet the requirements of the SEA Directive, and to assist authorities in carrying out such appraisals.

This guidance supercedes the Interim Advice Note on Frequently Asked Questions (published in April 2005); the Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks Consultation Paper (September 2004) and The Environmental Assessment Directive: Guidance for Planning Authorities (October 2003).

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