Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

2. North Somerset Local Plan 2036 Sustainability Appraisal: Scoping Report

Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report


Non-Technical Summary

1. Introduction
The SA Process
Task A1 2.  The requirements of other plans, programmes and policies
Task A2 3.  Baseline information and assessment
Task A3 4.  Key sustainability issues and the North Somerset Local Plan
Task A4 5.  The Sustainability Appraisal Framework: objectives and indicators
  6.  Other Assessments Linked to the SA Process
  7.  Next Stages and Methodology for the SA
Appendix A: Review of Plans, Programmes and Policies
Diagram 1: Stages in the SA Process
Diagram 2: Stages in SA process relating to the North Somerset Local Plan



1. North Somerset administrative area
2. Green Belt in North Somerset
3. Mendip Hills AONB in North Somerset
4. Ramsar sites, SPA’s and SAC’s in North Somerset
5. Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in North Somerset
6. National and local nature reserves in North Somerset
7. Conservation areas, Listed buildings, Scheduled monuments, Registered and Unregistered Parks and Gardens in North Somerset
8. Fluvial and Tidal Flood zones 3a and 3b


List of Tables:

1. Population growth 1991 – 2011
2. Population comparisons by age group
3. Percentage of persons in employment by occupation
4. Employment and unemployment rates
5. Enterprise births and deaths
6. Retail vacancy rates: town centres – 2016
7. Retail vacancy rates: district and local centres – 2016
8. SSSI condition
9. Carbon emissions
10. Current and likely future Sustainability Issues in North Somerset and the role of the North Somerset Local Plan
11. The Sustainability Framework objectives
12. The Sustainability Appraisal Framework
13. Compatibility of SA sub-objectives
14. SEA Regulations criteria for determining the likely significance of effects on the environment (Schedule 1 of the SEA Regulations 2004)


Non- Technical Summary

Sustainability and the Sustainability Appraisal Process

  • The origins of the SA process lie with the European Union's Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive, which aims to ensure that all significant land use plans, programmes and policies take into consideration environmental issues and impacts. The UK's SA process has widened this scope to also include consideration of economic and social issues when assessing specific plans, programmes and policies relating to land use.
  • The Sustainability Appraisal (SA) process is a process that aims to ensure that all significant plans and programmes which relate to land use issues are compatible with the aims of sustainable development. These include the documents that will form the local planning policy framework for North Somerset.
  • 'Sustainable development' has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. There are economic, social and environmental dimensions to this. Sustainable development is not development that balances or trades off these three aspects but development that enables the economy, society and the environment to be sustained together.
  • Guidance contained in national planning practice guidance is that the sustainability appraisal should only focus on what is needed to assess the likely significant effects of the Local Plan. It should focus on the environmental, economic and social impacts that are likely to be significant. It does not need to be done in any more detail, or using more resources, than is considered to be appropriate for the content and level of detail in the Local Plan. This advice will be followed in the production of the SA for the North Somerset Local Plan. 

The Local Plan 2036

  • The SA Framework consists of a set of sustainability objectives against which the Plan's emerging policy options will be tested. There are five broad 'high-level' objectives that are further divided into 21 more specific sub-objectives.
  • To assess what options would be most sustainable for the future development of North Somerset, it has been necessary to identify those key environmental and other sustainability issues that currently exist in the District. This process has included looking at a range of information and indicators on economic, social and environmental conditions to illustrate the issues relevant to the authority.
  • The Local Plan will contain a range of policy types, including area-based, development management and site allocations policies. It is unlikely that the same methodology for assessing the development management policies will be suitable to assess site allocations within the plan. For this reason, different appraisal methods will be selected to effectively appraise the different policy types within the Local Plan.
  • The new North Somerset Local Plan is a formal development plan document. The plan area will be the administrative area of North Somerset (see Map1). The main purpose of the Local Plan is to review and roll-forward policies and allocations in the existing development plan documents. It will review and eventually replace the Core Strategy 2006-2026 (adopted 2017) and the Sites and Policies Plan, Parts 1 and 2. It will therefore set the planning policies on which decisions will be made within the plan period, 2018-2036. The plan will reflect the overall amount of new residential and employment development set in the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) and where it should be located, through site allocations, as well as set out the infrastructure required to support that growth e.g. schools, transport, community facilities and green spaces. New sites for non-strategic development in the district will also be allocated. The Local Plan will also set out the suite of planning policies that will be used to deliver sustainable development in North Somerset.
  • This Scoping Report sets out a Framework for how the SA will be carried out for the new Local Plan 2036. An Issues and Options document has been produced which identifies those policies where there are different options to explore to ensure effective delivery of the policy objective. These reasonable alternatives will undergo sustainability appraisal using the sustainability appraisal objectives identified within this scoping report. A preferred approach will be selected which will be put forward into the draft Local Plan.
  • The first stage of the scoping process has been to identify and review relevant plans, programmes and policies that influence this Plan. This includes looking at documents at national and regional/sub-regional and local level. They have been identified and reviewed to ensure the North Somerset Local Plan complies with the aims and objectives of complementary plans, programmes and policies.
  • This Report then sets out the SA Framework. This will be used to assess, against relevant sustainability criteria, the different options and alternatives being considered when progressing the North Somerset Local Plan. The SA process should identify any likely significant adverse effects and measures envisaged to prevent, reduce and, as fully as possible, offset them. The sustainability appraisal must consider all reasonable alternatives and assess them in the same level of detail as the option the plan-maker proposes to take forward in the Local Plan (the preferred approach).
  • The Scoping Report is published for consultation in accordance with the SEA Directive and Regulations. Consultation on the scoping report will take place alongside the consultation on the Local Plan Issues and Options document. Consultation formally seeks the view of the three statutory consultees, namely the Environment Agency, Historic England and Natural England. The consultation process will also allow members of the public to comment on the scope of the SA. The consultation is designed to gauge the view of consultees on the defined scope of the SA and the proposed level of detail that should be included. The consultation is to be held from 3 September to 10 December 2018. In considering the Draft Scoping Report, consultees are invited to answer the following questions which are set out throughout the document in the relevant sections with the ability to respond:

Do you agree with the proposed Sustainability Appraisal Framework?

Is any significant environmental, social or economic data missing or misrepresented?

Have all relevant plans and programmes been referenced?

Are there any additional sustainability issues within North Somerset that need to be considered in the development of the New Local Plan document?

Is the proposed methodology for the next stages of the Sustainability Appraisal correct?

  • Comments received via the consultation process may be used to inform further iterations of the scoping report and may inform the next stage within the SA process.
  • Following on from this scoping stage, the SA will be undertaken. It should be noted that appropriate appraisal methods will be selected for appraising different parts of the Local Plan, i.e. the method for appraising the development management policies may not be the same as that chosen to appraise the site allocations. A Draft SA Report will be published alongside the Consultation version of the Local Plan and a Final SA Report will then be published alongside the Publication version of the Local Plan. Feedback from consultation on both the Scoping Report and the Issues and Options document, together with any other additional findings and updates will be incorporated into an ongoing and iterative SA process.

If you have any queries on this report or any other aspect of the SA process, please contact: