South West regional plan study published

An environmental report into the revocation the South West regional strategy has found that the abolition of the plan would have a largely similar environmental effect to its retention.

DCLG: department commissioned reports
DCLG: department commissioned reports

The strategic environmental assessment (SEA), published by the government for consultation, is one of a series of studies being produced by consultancy AMEC to analyse the impact of its decision to scrap regional strategies.

The report, which is available for comment until 1 February 2013, says the effects of revoking the South West regional strategy are largely similar to those if it were retained.

The only area where revocation would lead to significant negative effects is in relation to the extraction and use of aggregates and construction materials to support housing and economic development and associated waste generation, the study says.

However, the report says that negative effects may be mitigated to a degree through policies in the National Planning Policy Framework including those that seek good design and the sustainable use of materials, and policies in the government’s planning policy statement on waste (PPS10).

AMEC says that revocation of regional policies would provide clarity to councils by removing the potentially confusing position created by the presence of the outdated regional plan, which was adopted in 2004. An updated draft strategy was was examined by the previous government but the final version was not completed before the change of administration in May 2010.

But the consultancy warns that while the Localism Act's duty to co-operate between local authorities could well address a wide range of strategic issues, it believes that there is uncertainty as to how this might work.

"Some issues such as renewable energy, biodiversity enhancement or landscape conservation, which typically benefit from being planned at a wider geographical scale, may not have their full potential realised," it says.

It also says that the removal of the specific target for brownfield development within the regional plan for the South West could reduce the amount of such land reused for development and could potentially lead to an increase in development on greenfield sites.

Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Revocation of the South West Regional Strategy: Environmental Report is available here

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