Every Local Plan must be informed and accompanied by a Sustainability Appraisal. This allows the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of the proposals to be evaluated and reasonable alternatives considered. Supplementary Planning Documents and Neighbourhood Plans do not need to undertake a Sustainability Appraisal.
Undertaking a Sustainability Appraisal means that the requirements under European Law for Strategic Environmental Assessment will be satisfied. The basic steps in the process are:
i) On commencement of the Local Plan, preparing a Sustainability Appraisal Scoping report setting
out a context of policies, a baseline of facts and trends about the area and the proposed
Sustainability Objectives (environmental, economic and social) upon which the impacts of the Local Plan will be evaluated. This has to be subject to public consultation including with the statutory consultees of the Environment Agency, Historic England and Natural England.
ii) Scoring the potential impacts of the Local Plan (aims, objectives and policies) against the
Sustainability Objectives, and noting whether negative impacts can be mitigated by changes to the Local Plan
iii) Re-scoring further changes to the Plan
The results should be presented in a Sustainability Appraisal report alongside drafts of the Local Plan for pubic consultation.
The Local Plan may also require a Habitats Regulation Assessment, as set out in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) if it is considered to have likely significant effects on European habitats or species located in the vicinity (including outside the Planning Authority's area).