Strategic Assessment in England and Scotland: Analysing the contribution to sustainability

Hayes, S ORCID: 0000-0002-6409-2261
(2013) Strategic Assessment in England and Scotland: Analysing the contribution to sustainability. PhD thesis, Unspecified.

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Contributing to sustainable development is commonly noted as an overall goal for both Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Over a decade ago, EU Directive 2001/42/EC (SEA Directive) reinforced the need for strategic assessment of plans and programmes in the UK. However, the SEA Directive does not stipulate the methodological approach and, as environmental matters are devolved to the individual nations of the UK, implementation is varied. This research considers strategic assessment processes in England and Scotland and the implications of system variation upon the contribution made to sustainable development. Attention is paid to the purposes expressed for strategic assessment, the roles and relationships between actors and organisations involved and also the processes, practices and outcomes of SA and SEA. Two case studies of SA in England and two of SEA in Scotland as applied to development plans are analysed. A range of purposes for both SA and SEA are identified, including; regulatory compliance, identifying and documenting impacts, considering options and alternatives, allowing consultation, and informing and influencing plans. This research concludes that there exists variation between cases in the ambition held for strategic assessment, ranging from basic compliance to influencing plans. This research then focuses on the relationships between actors and organisations involved in SA and SEA with particular attention given to the role of assessment practitioners, planners and consultees. It is found that independence or ‘distance’, to provide legitimacy, and ‘closeness’, to enable influence, are both considered desirable features of the relationship between planning and assessment. In addition, overlap between consultation on both plans and assessment reports adds complexity to the role of consultees. Finally, this research concludes that strategic assessment influence is largely limited to marginal modifications to policy wording and explanatory text, including; strengthening language, increasing clarity, cross referencing to other policies and plans, and requiring lower tier assessments. Thus, strategic assessment fails to achieve more substantial influence, significantly limiting its ability to contribute to sustainability transition in development planning. A number of institutional barriers to increasing strategic assessment influence and

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2016 10:08
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:35
DOI: 10.17638/03001749
Open Access URL:
  • Jones, CE
  • Barker, A