Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

General Information

As part of the preparation or modification of plans, programmes and strategies, local authorities have been undertaking Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) since 21 July 2004. The process is regulated by the EU Directive 2001/42/EC, the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes (Scotland) Regulation 2004 and the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. SEA is the environmental assessment of plans, programmes or strategies. It seeks to provide high level protection to the environment; integrate the environment and sustainable development into planning processes; promote sustainable development; and promote a more open, transparent and evidenced-based planning culture.

SEA applies to the sectors of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism, transportation, telecommunication, waste management, water management, industry, energy and land use. The main actions of the SEA processes include preparation of pre-screening or screening reports, scoping reports, environmental reports and post-adoption statements. SEA requires consultation with consultative authorities and the general public at varying degrees throughout the entire process. The statutory consultation authorities include Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), NatureScot and Historic Scotland (HS).

In order to Implement SEA, Aberdeenshire Council is in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Enterprise Grampian in sharing resources and expertise. An SEA Steering Group comprising 6 representatives from the three authorities and a full-time dedicated SEA Officer steer and co-ordinate the process. Some resources available here at Aberdeenshire Council include in-house training, SEA templates, SEA case studies and practical support.


In order to facilitate the SEA process, a nuMBer of resources are available. However, these resources do not replace resources, toolkits and guidance developed by the European Union, the UK governments and the Scotland Executive. The resources available here should therefore supplement other resources available elsewhere. The resources available on this website will be in PDF format. In order that officers can easily use some of the templates without the need to retype them, the word version of the resources will be on the Intranet (the zone). Some of the resources available include:


It is the desire of the three authorities in this partnership to develop in-house capacity in SEA. One way to achieve this is for officers to see what others are doing and to learn from them. In this connection, this section is devoted to copies of (pre) screening, scoping and environmental reports available in this council. The following are the reports available:




Environmental Report

Statutory Notices and Public Consultations

SEA is defined by the EU Directive as “the preparation of an environmental report, the carrying out consultations, the taking into account of the environmental report and the results of the consultations in decision-making and provision of information on the decision.” In order to provide information to the public some notices would have to be published on the council’s website. This section of the page will therefore host notices such as screening Determination and post-adoption statements.

Appropriate Assessment

European Directive 92/43/EEC (The Habitats Directive) requires competent authorities to carry out an Appropriate Assessment (AA) of plans and projects that, either alone or in coMBination with other plans and projects, are likely to have a significant effect on European designated sites. In UK the transposition of the Directive into the UK Habitats Regulations did not specifically require land use plans and water management plans to be considered under Articles 6(3) and 6(4) of the Directive.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has therefore recently ruled that the UK has not been in compliance of the Habitats Directive. As a result of the ruling, Aberdeen City Council cannot adopt plans unless it determines that the provisions of the plan are not likely to have a significant effect on any European site. In the absence of such a determination, Aberdeen City Council will have to carry out an Appropriate Assessment in respect of the provisions of plans in line with the requirements of Article 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive. This section lists appropriate assessments being undertaken.

Environmental Impact Assessment

One feature of plans, programmes or strategies that require SEA is that they set the framework for future development consent of projects listed in the schedule for environmental impact assessment (EIA). There is therefore the need to track the way EIAs are being undertaken consistent with the frameworks set by plans, programmes or strategies. This section will track EIA submitted to the council.

Further Information

Contact Joseph Somevi, Strategic Environmental Assessment Officer (Joseph works for both Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils and can be contacted at either authority).

Important links

Contact us

Planning and Environmental Services (Aberdeenshire Council)
Phone: 01224 664369