2 Addressing Environmental Considerations in STPR
The purpose of this section of the Post-Adoption SEA Statement is to address the following requirements of the SEA Act:
- How environmental considerations have been integrated into the STPR; and;
- How the results of the Environmental Report and wider discussions have been taken into account.
The STPR was conducted using Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) methodologies. The approach set out in the SEA environmental assessment was carried out throughout, and in parallel with, the STAG process mirroring the treatment of issues such as feasibility, affordability, and public acceptability, in addition to the specific topics identified under the SEA legislation.
STAG is an issues driven, objective focused, evidence led appraisal, which sets out an iterative process of analysis to progressively assess which of various interventions are most effective in meeting a defined set of objectives. For the STPR, issues and objectives were identified through STPR Reports 1 and 2. Interventions were generated, sifted and appraised in Report 3. The interventions themselves were generated from a variety of sources, including the emerging Regional Transport Strategies, other strategies and workshops.
The future performance of transport infrastructure elements that could be modelled was assessed using the Transport Model for Scotland (TMfS).
For the SEA, modelled traffic data was used for air quality, noise and CO2 assessments, alongside qualitative data. For those elements for which modelling was less appropriate, bespoke means were adopted to assess performance. All proposals were assessed against the three key strategic outcomes in the National Transport Strategy which seek to:
- Improve journey times and connections, to tackle congestion and the lack of integration and connections in transport;
- Reduce emissions, to tackle the issues of climate change, air quality and health improvement; and
- Improve quality, accessibility and affordability, to give people a choice of public transport, where availability means better quality transport services and value for money or an alternative to the car.
Due to the high-level nature of the STPR, the SEA was conducted on methods based on the Analytical Strategic Environmental Assessment (ANSEA) framework, as devised under the 5th Framework Research Programme of the European Union.
The ANSEA framework was conceived specifically for strategic high level SEAs, such as the STPR, as opposed to plan level SEAs. This approach provided a credible method for fully integrating the SEA within the STPR framework by focusing on the types of decisions made throughout the evolution of the strategy rather than a descriptive end point. It also provided a consistent framework for assessing potentially contrasting issues at different spatial scales and tiers of the decision making process. This was important as it was recognised from the outset that the STPR could give rise to interventions of different types on varying scales and across a diverse geographical area.
Additionally the SEA also recognised the guidance provided in the following documents:
- Scottish Government (2006) â€˜Strategic Environmental Assessment Tool Kitâ€™ (and Templates);
- Scottish Government (2003) â€˜Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidanceâ€™ ; (and the updated version by The Scottish Government (2008));
- ODPM (2005) â€˜A Practical Guide to the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive; and,
- Department of Health (2007) â€˜Draft Guidance on Health in Strategic Environmental Assessmentâ€™.
The SEA assessed the potential environmental effects of decisions made in developing the STPR, to give advice on how to offset, minimise and avoid potential adverse effects and enhance beneficial effects.
This was complemented by the parallel production of the environmental baseline, which was informed by (and informed the process) of identifying the existing and potential performance of the Scottish Transport network, which was categorised into 20 corridors, four urban networks (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen), and two strategic nodes (Perth and Inverness).
The environmental baseline was developed for each of the transport corridors and then used to inform the assessment of their environmental performance. The baseline exercise also utilised the TMfS to describe the potential future effects of the transport network on transport generated noise, CO2e emissions and air quality aspects of the environment.
The study area for the environmental baseline was based on a 15 km buffer zone around each of the STPR corridors. This was agreed with the scoping authorities and was done to ensure all potential environmental effects could be accounted for. The environmental baseline information for each of the four urban networks and two strategic nodes is also contained in the appropriate SEA Transport corridors.
Environmental considerations have been highlighted throughout the STPR and integrated into its development and conduct. This was recognised during the inception of STPR in mid 2006. The initial brief and proposed methodology both recognised the need to undertake SEA in tandem with the other technical elements of STPR. The diagram below illustrates the relationship between the SEA and STPR and clearly highlights the cross connectivity and processes of informing and influencing that occurred between the two.
The "SWP" designation in Figure 2.1 relates to the Strategic Work Packages of the STPR. For management purposes, the conduct of the STPR was split into work packages, the outputs of which are presented in the published STPR Reports. SWP 3 equates to Report 1, SWP4 to Report 2, SWP 5 and 6 are combined in Report 3 and SWP8 is presented in Report 4. SWP7 covered the Environmental Report and Appropriate Assessment.
The SEA was undertaken through a number of clearly defined steps. These comprise:
- Scoping Report â€” The scope and level of detail of the Environmental Report is informed through the publication of a Scoping Report and consultation processes involving stakeholders and other interested parties including statutory consultees: Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Historic Scotland (HS) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). For the purposes of the STPR SEA, Health Scotland was treated as a statutory consultee.
- Environmental Report â€” An Environmental Report is published which describes the likely significant, strategic environmental effects of implementing the STPR. This is also subject to a period of publicity and consultation. The statutory consultees are amongst those invited to comment upon the Report and its findings.
- Post Adoption Statement â€” An Adoption Statement is published which explains how the results of the environmental assessment of the SEA and consultation processes have been taken into account in determining the final list of candidate STPR interventions. The Statement also describes methods for monitoring the significant, strategic environmental effects of implementing the candidate STPR interventions to enable Transport Scotland to identify any unforeseen adverse effects at an early stage and undertake appropriate remedial action as well as monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation measures.
Throughout their development, the STPR and the SEA were also supported by joint working and progress meetings cross checking the development of each and ensuring that SEA properly influenced the STPRâ€™s development. The process of running the STPR and SEA in parallel ensured that STPR was effectively shaped by consideration of environmental considerations from the outset and throughout its development. In addition, the SEA scoping report was circulated to the statutory consultees and fed directly into the STAG appraisal underlying STPR.
In addition to the conduct of the SEA, an Appropriate Assessment was completed for the 29 interventions of Appendix D and the 17 interventions of Appendix E in the STPR. This was undertaken to meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive and involved the consideration of the possible impacts, at a strategic level, on designated sites.
The Appropriate Assessment helped to support the SEA and STPR by clarifying the likely approach to be taken in delivering some of the STPR interventions and establishing, at a strategic level, that those recommended in STPR could be delivered without adversely impacting designated sites.
As illustrated in Figure 2.1, an initial environmental assessment was conducted on the interventions carried forwards in the STPR throughout the initial option development and sifting stages. This initial environmental assessment was carried out to inform the STPR STAG appraisal which is detailed in STPR Report 3.
The Environmental Report has been taken into account throughout the development of STPR. Its development was an integral part of the STPR as a whole and the interaction between the ER and STAG process underlying STPR has brought considerable added value to both.
The success of this process in affecting the outcomes of the STPR can be illustrated by the following examples;
- The STPRâ€™s key strategic objectives were subjected to a sustainability appraisal, which resulted in, amongst other things, a revision of the reduced emissions objective to tie it more effectively into future developments of the appraisal process. This involved a shift from CO2 to CO2e appraisal.
- The SEA defined specific objectives and indicators to test the STPR, providing a cross check on the compatibility of the STPR with environmental objectives. The performance of the proposed interventions was tested throughout the SEA/ STPR process and fed into the development and appraisal of interventions. This ensured the STPR was subject to environmental scrutiny from the earliest points of its development.
- The assessment of interventions in STPR was supported and influenced by an implementability assessment, conducted to establish whether potential interventions raised issues of regulatory compliance in relation to environmental constraints, such as effects on the integrity of internationally designated sites, potential to moderate impact on water quality, scheduled monuments or air quality.
- The first stage environmental assessment of potential interventions was conducted on all candidate D and E interventions, which identified the potential high level environmental effect that may result from the intervention and therefore its desirability from a purely environmental perspective.
- The second phase of the SEA assessment used a 7 point scale to mirror the wider STAG assessment used in STPR. This allowed a common consideration of likely impacts. This consideration was, again, informed by the processes being undertaken as part of developing the Environmental Report.
- The SEA makes clear the need for monitoring and evaluation of the future development and delivery of STPR. This will be a central component of STPR from now on and, framed under environmental legislation, is likely to be a one of the most critical factors affecting the development of interventions.
- Further work is being carried forward on some of the STPR interventions, particularly those of a larger scale for which detail has not been defined. This work is being undertaken to ensure that the principles established at this early stage in the SEA are carried into the more detailed development of these interventions.
It is also important to note that the Environmental Report continues to be taken into account. An addendum to the Environmental Report is being published in support of this Post Adoption Statement. The addendum addresses technical and factual points raised in the consultation and other points of refinement. The consultation responses in Chapter 3 are referenced in the addendum where appropriate.
The monitoring and mitigation proposals included in this Post Adoption Statement will be carried forward into the design development and, subsequently, into the delivery of the STPR interventions themselves.