Woodbrook housing

Sustainability Appraisal

Sustainability Appraisal assesses environmental, social and economic impacts in a single procedure.

About Sustainability Appraisal

Sustainability Appraisal (SA) allows comparison of how well alternative proposals would contribute to a broad set of objectives, such as avoiding harm to biodiversity and creating jobs.

SA is used to assess development plans and has also been applied to infrastructure plans for energy and ports.

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) introduced a mandatory form of SA to be applied to development plans in England and Wales, incorporating the requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.

Development plans must have been subjected to satisfactory SAs.

Guidance on Sustainability Appraisal is available from the Department of Communities and Local Government website.

Ensuring good practice in development plans

Where key sites are at risk, our casework officers may scrutinise Sustainability Appraisals.

They look to ensure that legislative requirements and good-practice guidelines have been followed, and biodiversity concerns are properly addressed.

We also lobby for effective legislation and guidance, for example through consultation responses.

Ling heather Calluna vulgaris amidst seeding grasses, Farnham Heath RSPB reserve, Surrey, England

Major housing and infrastructure plans

Sustainability Appraisal (SA) has been used to assess the eco-towns policy and programme.

Appraisals of Sustainability - a form of SA - have been applied to the UK’s draft National Policy Statements for energy and ports.

In 2009, we commissioned Collingwood Environmental Planning to review these appraisals. They found significant weaknesses in the way the appraisals have incorporated the requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.

To find out more or download the interim and final reports, and report summary, visit the National Policy Statements page.

Flower-rich margin at Grange Farm, Cambridgeshire