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Strategic Environmental Assessment

Mertoun parkland
EU legislation requiring the environmental assessment of plans and programmes came into being in 2001 through Directive 2001/42/EC

In Scotland, the requirements of the Directive are taken forward by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. The Act requires that environmental assessment is undertaken on all public sector plans, programmes and strategies which are likely to have significant environmental effects.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) provides a systematic process for identifying, predicting, reporting, mitigating and monitoring the environmental effects of plans, programmes and strategies.

The Scottish Strategic Environmental Assessment Review

Published in 2011, some ten years on from the coming into force of the SEA directive, and nearly six since the passing of Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act, this review is the first full consideration of the efficiency and effectiveness of SEA process and practice in Scotland.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency led and authored this review, in association with Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland and with the support of Scottish Government.  It was also informed by a project steering group of wider partners and stakeholders.  The report summarises the main conclusions and sets out recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of SEA process and practice in Scotland.  The report can be viewed below and its appendices can be seen at the Scottish Government website.

PDF icon Scottish SEA Review – Executive Summary [pdf, 1.3mb]
PDF icon Scottish SEA Review – Main Report [pdf, 3.4mb]


The Scottish Government has published a basic introduction to Strategic Environmental Assessment which outlines some advice on basic SEA procedures.  More detailed guidance intended for SEA practitioners can be found in the following publications:

Scottish Government Guidance on Strategic Environmental Assessment
Planning Advice Note 1/2010 Strategic Environmental Assessment of Development Plans
Consideration of Climatic Factors within Strategic Environmental Assessment
A Practical Guide to the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive .

SEA and Development Plans: The Consultation Authorities along with input from a number of local planning authorities, have been looking at the opportunity to streamline the Local Development Plan site assessment and SEA assessment processes.  As a result we have drafted an assessment proforma which provides a suggested checklist aimed at integrating the two processes.   As well as the checklist, the explanatory text at the end of the profoma includes links to sources of information and guidance that should help focus the assessment process.  The profoma is a suggested checklist and is not intended to be used prescriptively.  It is considered a 'work in progress' and we would welcome comments and suggestions for improvement.

Word document SEA joint site assessment proforma [Word Doc, 243KB]

Strategic Environmental Assessment Database

The SEA Database offers a means to examine all SEA activity that has taken place in Scotland since July 2004. The Database holds all formal submissions, including pre-screening, screening, scoping, environmental report and post adoption statements from Responsible Authorities. It also holds the Consultation Authorities (Historic Environment Scotland, SEPA & SNH) responses to these formal submissions.

Historic Environment Scotland's Role

Historic Environment Scotland has two roles under the Act:
  • as a Consultation Authority
The Scottish Ministers have designated Historic Environment Scotland to act on their behalf on matters affecting the historic environment.  Our duties are set out in the Act, involving the following tasks:

- responding to screening reports (specified 28 day time frame);
- responding to requests for assistance in scoping Environmental Reports (specified 35 day time frame);
- review of Environmental Reports (timeframe agreed during scoping); and
- responding to adoption notices, where required.

  • as a Responsible Authority
The term ‘Responsible Authority’ is used in the Act to describe the organisation responsible for preparing the plan, programme or strategy.  Historic Environment Scotland prepares plans, programmes and strategies and will undertake SEA of those that are likely to have significant environmental effects.

Administrative arrangements

The Act requires Responsible Authorities to submit consultation documents to the Consultation Authorities at various stages of the SEA process, including screening, scoping, and Environmental Reports and post-adoption statements.

The Scottish Government has established the SEA Gateway to manage the administration of SEA consultations. Responsible Authorities should submit all formal SEA consultation documents to the Scottish Government SEA Gateway who will issue the documents to the Consultation Authorities and coordinate the return of responses from the Consultation Authorities within the appropriate timeframe.
Further details about the roles and responsibilities of the SEA Gateway can be found in the SEA Guidance

Contact details for the SEA Gateway are provided below:

SEA Gateway
Scottish Government
Area 2-H (South)
Victoria Quay
Website: Scottish Government – Strategic Environmental Assessment Website
Telephone: 0131 244 5094

Historic Environment Scotland contact details

Alasdair McKenzie
SEA Team Leader
0131 668 8924

Andrew Stevenson
Senior Development Assessment Officer
0131 668 8960

Virginia Sharp
Senior Development Assessment Officer
0131 668 8704

Contact us

SEA Secretariat
Historic Environment Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Tel: +44(0) 131 668 8898