Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Sustainability Appraisal (SA) offer a structured way to test a Neighbourhood Plan and determine the environmental and socio-economic effects it could have. Different ideas and options for the Neighbourhood Plan are tested, and the Plan is then adapted to enhance the positives and remove or reduce negative effects.

A Strategic Environmental Assessment:

  • Is required in certain cases by EU legislation
  • Has an environmental focus
  • Must address specific issues in the EU Directive

A Sustainability Appraisal:

  • Is required in certain cases by UK Regulations
  • Includes social and economic issues as well as environmental
  • Can help demonstrate how your plan contributes to sustainable development, an issue that the Examiner will consider

Screening: Does my Plan need an SEA?

The decision for whether an SEA is needed is made at the Screening stage.

If your plan allocates land, you will need to carry out an SEA and a Sustainability Appraisal, as there is potential for development to have a significant effect on the environment.

The EU legislation under Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) Directive 2001//42/EC, Paragraph 2 of the SEA Regulations 2001/42/EC states that an SEA is mandatory for plans/programmes which are prepared for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, transport, waste/water management, telecommunications, tourism, town and country planning or land use and which set the framework for future development consent of projects listed in the EIA Directive.

To ensure compliance with the legislation, we require all Neighbourhood Development Plans allocating sites for housing development to undertake an SEA. We also recommend a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is carried out as this will help demonstrate how the Plan accords with the principles of sustainable development. These two processes can be carried out in a combined SA/SEA, which is our preferred approach.

Once you have an idea of the policies of your plan and you know if it would allocate land, please contact us to check if an SEA is required. We will confirm in a written statement whether an SEA is required.

Standard Screening Response

Scoping Report

Our preferred approach is for a combined Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA) to be carried out.

We recommend that as per Schedule 2 of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 and National Planning Policy Guidance, SA/SEA Scoping reports set out:

  • Information on what your Neighbourhood Development Plan is aiming to achieve.
  • Information on plans and programs that influence the Neighbourhood Development Plan.
  • Baseline data. HDC will share data/links as appropriate.
  • Identification of any existing environmental issues or problems in the designated area.
  • Identification of environmental SA/SEA objectives. We recommend Reports highlight why certain issues are selected and to document why certain topic areas are scoped out.
  • Consultation on the Scope of the SA/SEA. We also recommend you outline the proposed methodology for undertaking the assessment.

We are happy to review and comment on draft versions of the Scoping Report and Environmental Report prior to consultation with the statutory bodies.

We recommend the District's SA Scoping Report is used as a starting point for your SA work.

Parish Councils/Qualifying Bodies will manage consultation with the statutory bodies, which include:

  • Environment Agency Sustainable Places team:
  • Natural England:
  • English Heritage:


The objectives, sites and policies in the Neighbourhood Plan will be assessed. Reasonable alternatives will be suggested and any cumulative effects of the policies will be identified.

Environment/Sustainability Appraisal Report

We recommend the Environment Report will need to contain:

  • The information from the Scoping Report
  • Test the NDP objectives against the SA/SEA objectives.
  • Commentary of how the NDP alternative options have been developed and refined. Alternatives should demonstrate what has been considered and how. This could include an assessment of alternative sites as well as the policy options.
  • Consider what significant effects the NDP will have on the local environment - Reference should be made to para 6 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations as above.
  • Identification of mitigation measures to offset adverse effects where appropriate. If relevant we also recommend the identification of measures to maximise any potential benefits.
  • Information regarding monitoring of significant effects will need to be included, please note going forward this will be the responsibility of HDC therefore indicators will need to be of an appropriate scale. If additional localised indicators are specified please be aware this monitoring would be the responsibility of the Parish Council/Qualifying Body.
  • Non-technical summary.

Coal Authority statement

There is no obligation for us as the Local Planning Authority or any Neighbourhood Forums or Parish Councils to consult the Coal Authority at any stage of Neighbourhood Planning. The interest of The Coal Authority lies within the defined UK coalfield, which covers a substantial part of England, but does not include Horsham District.

A full declaration is available on request: email

Habitat Regulation Assessment

If the Neighbourhood Plan area is within a 15 km search area of internationally important sites designated for their ecological status (Natura 2000 (N2K) sites or European Sites), a Habitats Regulation Assessments (HRA) may be required.

Where a Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA) is required we would advise early consultation with Natural England. We do not have the expertise in house to review/comments on any aspect of the Assessment.

Environment Agency position

The Environment Agency is consulted on Neighbourhood Plans across Sussex and Hampshire, and has requested that we apply standing advice in relation to scoping consultations. This means that we have a standard paragraph that represents the scoping opinion for an SEA of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Environment Agency statement