Integrated Sustainability Appraisal (ISA) Scoping Report

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1. Introduction

1.1 AECOM is commissioned to lead on Integrated Sustainability Appraisal (ISA) in support of Vale of Glamorgan Council's (the Council) Replacement Local Development Plan (RLDP). The ISA fulfils the requirements and duties for Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA), Health Impact Assessment (HIA), Welsh Language Impact Assessment (WLIA) and Well-being of Future Generations (WBFG).

1.2 ISA is a mechanism for considering and communicating the likely effects of an emerging plan, and alternatives in terms of key sustainability issues. The aim of ISA is to inform and influence the plan-making process with a view to avoiding and mitigating negative impacts and maximising positive impacts. Through this approach, the ISA for the replacement LDP (RLDP) seeks to maximise the developing plan's contribution to sustainable development.

Vale of Glamorgan Local Development Plan

1.3 The Vale of Glamorgan Local Development Plan 2011 - 2026 (LDP) was adopted on the 28th June 2017 and sets out the Council's planning framework for the development and use of land in Vale of Glamorgan from that date, until superseded. In accordance with statutory requirements the LDP has been monitored on an annual basis with three Annual Monitoring Reports (AMRs) published to date.[1]

1.4 To ensure that Local Development Plans (LDP) are kept up to date, Section 69 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires a Local Planning Authority to undertake a full review of a LDP at least once every four years following plan adoption.

1.5 Accordingly, in June 2021 the Vale of Glamorgan Council commenced its formal review of the adopted LDP, with the draft Review Report having been made available for consultation between the 5th November 2021 and 31st January 2022. The Review Report considered the effectiveness of the adopted LDP and recommended that a full revision of the LDP is undertaken.

1.6 The Vale of Glamorgan RLDP formally commenced on the 4th May 2022 following the Welsh Government's approval of the RLDP Delivery Agreement, which includes the timetable and Community Involvement Scheme. The RLDP will set out the Council's objectives and priorities for the development and use of land within the authority for the period 2021 to 2036. The area covered by the RLDP is shown in Figure 1.1 below.

Figure 1.1 Vale of Glamorgan Council administrative area 

This map outlines the administrative area for which the Vale of Glamorgan Council is responsible. It also identities the Local Planning Authorities that border the Vale of Glamorgan, including Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Cardiff.

ISA explained

1.7 ISA is a mechanism for considering and communicating the likely effects of an emerging plan, and alternatives in terms of key sustainability issues. The aim of ISA is to inform and influence the plan-making process with a view to avoiding and mitigating negative impacts and maximising positive impacts. Through this approach, the ISA for the RLDP seeks to maximise the developing plan's contribution to sustainable development.

1.8 As identified above, the ISA seeks to fulfil the requirements and duties for SA, SEA, EqIA, HIA, WLIA and WBFG. The approach is to fully integrate these components to provide a single assessment process to inform the development of the RLDP. A description of each of the various components and their purposes is provided below.

Sustainability Appraisal (SA)

1.9 SA is undertaken to address the procedures prescribed by the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes (Wales) Regulations 2004 (the SEA Regulations). SA is a legal requirement for Local Development Plans under Section 39 (2) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

1.10 In line with the requirements of the SEA Directive, the two key steps in SA are that:

  • When deciding on 'the scope and level of detail of the information' which must be included in the SA Report there is a consultation with nationally designated authorities concerned with environmental issues; and
  • A report (the 'SA Report') is published for consultation alongside the Draft Plan that presents an assessment of the Draft Plan (i.e., discusses 'likely significant effects' that would result from plan implementation) and reasonable alternatives.

1.11 The Development Plans Manual Edition 3 (2020) states that SA, incorporating SEA, plays an important part in demonstrating that the LDP is sound by ensuring that it reflects sustainable development objectives and that it should be an integral element at each stage of plan-making.

Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA)

1.12 As a public-sector organisation, the Vale of Glamorgan Council has a duty under the Equality Act 2010 and associated Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) to ensure that the objectives and policy options within the RLDP avoid unlawful discrimination (direct and indirect), as well as advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between those with protected characteristics and all others.

1.13 In March 2021 the Socio-economic Duty Act commenced, which compliments the Equalities Act and PSED by further contributing towards Wales' long term well-being goals, in particular "A more equal Wales" and "A Wales of cohesive communities". Further strengthening social partnership arrangements and advancing fair work ambitions.[2]

1.14 An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) is often used by public sector organisations to demonstrate how this duty has been met.

Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

1.15 The Public Health (Wales) Act 2017 contains a provision to require a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to be carried out to assess the likely effect of the proposed development plan on health and mental well-being and inequality. The HIA process provides a systematic yet flexible and practical framework that can be used to consider the wider effects of LDP policies and how they, in turn, may affect people's health.

Welsh Language Impact Assessment (WLIA)

1.16 The Welsh Government is committed to supporting the Welsh Language so that it can thrive and grow across Wales. The Welsh Language must be considered from the outset of the development plan process. It is a legislative requirement that the SA must include an assessment of the likely effects of the plan on the use of the Welsh language (The Planning (Wales) Act 2015 (Section 11)).

1.17 Planning Policy Wales Edition 11 (February 2021) (PPW) sets the policy requirements for Welsh language. Technical Advice Note 20: Planning and the Welsh Language provides guidance on the consideration of Welsh language as part of the development plan process. The TAN provides advice on incorporating the Welsh language in development plans through the SA and the policy approach to anticipated windfall development. In summary, planning authorities must consider the likely effects of their development plans as part of the SA process and include a statement within the Deposit Plan on how this has been considered and/or addressed within the development plan. The SA process is the mechanism for considering how the scale and location of growth, the vision, objectives, policies, and proposals individually and in combination, impact on the Welsh language. Where evidence indicates a detrimental impact on the use of the Welsh language the LPA can assess whether the strategy should be amended, or mitigation measures should be identified.

Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

1.18 The Planning (Wales) Act 2015 sets out the definition of sustainable development for the planning system in Wales, mirroring the definition in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (WBFGA).

1.19 "Sustainable development means the process of improving the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales by taking action, in accordance with the sustainable development principle, aimed at achieving the well-being goals".

1.20 The WBFGA sets seven well-being goals which all public bodies are required to achieve:

  • A prosperous Wales.
  • A resilient Wales.
  • A healthier Wales.
  • A more equal Wales.
  • A Wales of cohesive communities.
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language; and
  • A globally responsible Wales.

1.21 The Act identifies five ways of working which public bodies need to demonstrate they have carried out when undertaking their duty to achieve sustainable development. These are: involvement, collaboration, integration, prevention, and long-term factors. The well-being goals and the five ways of working can be used to inform and structure the ISA framework (see Appendix A).

1.22 Adding to this, Chapter 2.9 of PPW states that "the most appropriate way to implement these requirements through the planning system is to adopt a placemaking approach to plan making, planning policy and decision making".

1.23 The PPW sets out the following key planning principles, which focus on sustainable development and placemaking:

  • Growing our economy in a sustainable manner.
  • Making best use of resources.
  • Facilitating accessible and healthy environments.
  • Creating and sustaining communities; and
  • Maximising environmental protection and limiting environmental impact.

Approach to scoping for the ISA

1.24 Developing the draft scope has involved the following steps:

  • Exploring the national, regional, and local policy context for the ISA, i.e., reviewing high level messages (e.g., from government departments and agencies in particular) with a view to gaining an understanding of broadly what the ISA needs to focus on. It is considered that national policy documents sufficiently deal with higher level (international) policy context.
  • Establishing the baseline for the ISA, i.e., the current and further situation in the area in the absence of the RLDP, to help identify the plan's likely significant effects.
  • Identifying particular problems or opportunities ('issues') that should be a particular focus of the ISA; and
  • Developing an ISA Framework comprising objectives and assessment questions based on these issues which can then be used to assess the RLDP and consider alternatives.

Structure of this report

1.25 The outcomes of the scoping elements introduced above have been presented under a series of ISA themes, as follows:

  • Economy and employment.
  • Population and communities.
  • Health and wellbeing.
  • Equality, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Climate change (mitigation and adaptation).
  • Transport & movement.
  • Natural resources (air, land, minerals, and water).
  • Biodiversity and geodiversity.
  • Historic environment; and
  • Landscape.

1.26 The selected ISA themes incorporate the 'SEA topics' suggested by Schedule 2 of the SEA Regulations[3] as well as fully integrating EqIA, HIA and Welsh language considerations (including the Council's relevant policies and strategies) and reflecting the seven well-being goals set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

1.27 It is intended that presenting the scoping information under these themes will help enable the reader to easily locate the information of greatest interest to them. Once agreed (i.e., after the current consultation), the suggested scope presented under ten themes will provide a methodological 'framework' for the assessment of the draft RLDP and alternatives. The discussion of the scoping information under each ISA theme is presented in Chapters 2 to 11.


[1] Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Council (2021) Vale of Glamorgan Local Development Plan 2011-2026 3rd Annual Monitoring Report

[2] Welsh Government (2020): 'A more equal Wales: strengthening social partnership white paper', [online] available to access via this link

[3] The SEA Regulations are 'of a procedural nature' (para 9 of the Directive preamble) and do not set out to prescribe particular issues that should and should not be a focus, beyond requiring a focus on 'the environment, including on issues such as biodiversity, population, human health, fauna, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, material assets, cultural heritage including architectural and archaeological heritage, landscape and the interrelationship between the above factors' [our emphasis]

 

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