Jeffrey D. Sachs
The National Planning Policy Framework states that ‘the purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development’ and that relates to planning for change as well as planning to protect the landscapes, livelihoods and lifestyles of the people and environments we are responsible for.
Setting the standard in SA/SEA
We have a strong track record in working with the public sector to help them develop sustainable policies, plans and programmes relating to spatial planning, land use and natural resource management. Our work with local planning authorities is exemplary and has resulted in improvements to the sustainability of their planning policies and strategies.
See the ‘why people like us’ tab for details of our work supporting authorities and agencies.
We have been working with local authorities since the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive 2001/42/EC came into force in the UK. The Directive (known as the SEA Directive) is a requirement of all European governments as they relate to major development plans and programmes. SEA requires a thorough understanding of the social, economic and environmental implications of alternative options or scenarios. SEA requires identification of the significant effects on the environment, including:
biodiversity, fauna, flora, population, human health, soil, water, air, climatic factors, materials assets, cultural heritage (including architectural and archaeological heritage), landscape and the interrelationships between them)
Sustainability Appraisals/SEA (or SA/SEA) is a tool used at the strategic policy making level to set the framework for land use planning criteria to promote sustainability. SA/SEA identifies the key environmental/sustainability opportunities and constraints, thresholds and limits at the appropriate plan making level -e.g. determination of future land use options. It makes comprehensive assessments of incremental and cumulative issues and considers aspects such as environmental thresholds and the capacities of the natural environment to accept change, as well as ensuring win-win opportunities for society and economies.
Our role is typically embedded within the local planning authority or agency to engage and support throughout the iterative process of making plans and strategies. For the most part we have been involved at the early stages (where we can ensure that sustainability thinking can be best applied from the outset), and worked throughout the plan or strategy making process to provide a coherent approach.
Our team have been working within the sustainability sector for over 20 years and have a thorough understanding of the changing role of spatial planning; thus enabling our clients to benefit from our years of experience.
We take the time to understand the characteristics of communities and the pressures they face; what the drivers for the local economy are; and environmental issues and opportunities: both present and future in relation to the plan, programme or strategy. Our recommendations for improvement are based upon extensive background research and application of expertise in a range of sectors. We also recognise the pressures facing local authorities and can provide a more comprehensive service where we project manage and undertake the whole of the SEA/SA process from start to finish.
Our team have acted at a national level in designing methodologies for Strategic Environmental Assessment /Sustainability Appraisals. We also actively train other environmental professionals in SEA/SA and EIA as well as promoting best practice and quality management within the sector. Our clients include IEMA and Natural England and the RTPI.
Our training has also been delivered to government bodies throughout the UK, Malta, Cyprus and Uganda.
At Sherwood, we believe in building the capabilities of others who are involved in the planning process, and therefore have undertaken the role of facilitator or ‘critical friend’ by several local authority planning departments.
Making planning and policy sustainable
We have worked closely with the City of Lincoln Council in conducting their SEA/SA appraisals and acting as a facilitator to build capacity within the Planning Team.
We have undertaken appraisals of all of the key Local Development Framework documents and have utilised best practice throughout each iteration, whilst promoting the concept of spatial planning.
Most recently we have developed new approaches to the SEA/SA process to enable greater levels of understanding by the general public and to provide a more informed analysis of the area, and the impacts and opportunities available to a local authority.
We have also worked with other authorities including: