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You are here: Penwith on the Web/Living in Penwith/Sustainable Development and Improvement (Planning and Building Control)/Local Plan
Penwith District Local Plan
Adopted 2004
14 ENVIRONMENTAL APPRAISAL
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INTRODUCTION
PLAN APPRAISAL
Figure 1: Environmental Stock Criteria, Penwith Local Plan
Figure 2: Environmental Appraisal - Policy Impact Matrix
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1 Introduction
2 The Local Plan Area
3 Plan Strategy
4 Objectives
5 General Development Guidance
6 Coast and Countryside
7 Towns and Villages
8 Housing
9 Employment
10 Tourism
11 Recreation
12 Transportation
13 Community Services
14 Environmental Appraisal
15 Monitoring and Review
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14. ENVIRONMENTAL APPRAISAL
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14.1 INTRODUCTION

14.1 Planning policy guidance on development plans advises that environmental implications should be appraised as part of the preparation process. With or without such guidance it is clearly important to assess how far the approach and policies of the Plan have regard to environmental implications and are seeking to achieve sustainable development.

14.1.2 The Council has considered a range of environmental issues in formulating previous Local Plans and non-statutory policies. In the past, however, the issues considered were mainly limited to the visual effect on the countryside or townscape and the protection of areas designated of special national or countywide value. While the effects of traffic, additional demands on water supplies and sewerage have been taken into account, it has usually been in the sense that the development must be adequately serviced rather than in terms of conserving the extent and quality of resources.

14.1.3 As a result of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990, PPG 1 "General Policy and Principles", PPG 12 "Development Plans and Regional Planning Guidance" and other planning policy guidance, there is a requirement for taking account of much wider environmental issues and, specifically, to work towards ensuring that development and growth in the District are sustainable. These wider issues include such matters as the protection, and efficient use of, a wide range of renewable and non-renewable resources, the effect of 'greenhouse' gases, CO2 fixing, the protection of ground water and rivers, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

14.1.4 As an example of how much broader environmental issues are being taken into account, the location of new housing in the main towns and villages has been a fundamental basis of planning policies in order to avoid the spread and visual impact of development in the countryside and to relate it to centres where utility and other community services are available. This approach now has additional justification in seeking to reduce the number and length of trips between home and work, school, shops or other services and in allowing for a reduction in reliance on use of the private car. Similarly the planting and retention of appropriate trees is important, not only in terms of the appearance of the countryside or townscape but in contributing to CO2 fixing and maintaining natural habitats for wildlife.

14.1.5 Development and change are taking place continually and, while the local effects can be seen, it may be difficult to identify a specific level, or point in time, where the change becomes obviously damaging in environmental terms. In Penwith most new developments are, individually, small-scale which in some ways makes it harder to assess the cumulative effect.

14.1.6 The good practice guide "Environmental Appraisal of Development Plans" published by the Department of the Environment identifies that appraisal needs a baseline position so that policies and proposals can be considered in terms of the changes they are likely to make. However, it is also identified that the task of quantifying all that is of environmental value in the District is potentially enormous. As a result it can only be undertaken gradually, starting with information already held by the Council and adding to it systematically from other sources as opportunities arise. It is important to avoid duplication of effort in this respect and the establishment of environmental measuring and monitoring systems should be co-ordinated with the Council's Local Agenda 21 and Community Planning responsibilities and with the programmes of other relevant organisations.

14.1.7 The identification of specific resources and assets to be safeguarded provides a basis for considering the effect of the Plan's policies and for future monitoring of their effectiveness. This is termed environmental stock. The good practice guide suggests three levels of concern - global sustainability, natural resource management and local environmental quality - with a number of elements of stock, and indicators, for each.

Global Sustainability

14.1.8 This heading relates primarily to the atmosphere and biodiversity. The atmosphere is affected by the use of fossil fuels and planning policies relating to transport energy, energy use in buildings and the development of renewable energy sources, therefore, are relevant. The protection of natural habitats, which support a wide range of species, has been closely associated with planning legislation for a considerable time and relates both to nationally designated sites and, increasingly, to other sites of nature conservation value and management issues. The protection and planting of trees is also important in terms of habitat and of CO2 fixing.

Natural Resources

14.1.9 This heading relates to the use and safeguarding of resources such as local air quality, water supply and quality, land and soil quality, including good agricultural land, and raw materials and minerals, including fossil fuels. While the Environment Agency has more direct responsibilities in some respects, planning policies can influence sources of pollution and the effects of development on water quality, the use of land and materials, the amount and type of development and the encouragement of recycling and re-use of buildings.

Local Environmental Quality

14.1.10 The quality of the local environment results from a wide range of factors. Landscape character and quality, including nationally designated areas, areas of local value, and the countryside in general, the quality of the built environment, including the character of towns and villages, their vitality, safety and amenity, the cultural heritage of the area, including features that contribute to the special character of Penwith, access by the public for the enjoyment of open spaces, water and the countryside and the maintenance, and use, of buildings all make an important contribution. They are directly affected by development pressures and, therefore, by planning policies.

14.1.11 The stock criteria and indicators recommended in the good practice guide, together with some amendments and additions, have been used as the basis for appraisal and are set out in Figure 1.

14.2 PLAN APPRAISAL

14.2.1 The purpose of the environmental appraisal is:

  • to clarify the environmental objectives of the Plan;
  • to identify the environmental implications of policies, or alternative policy options, and
  • to consider potential areas of conflict between different aspects of the environment and between environmental issues and economic or social issues.

It forms an integral part of both the Plan's preparation and subsequent review.

14.2.2 As part of the consultation stage public comment was invited specifically on the environmental approach of the Plan. A leaflet was published identifying environmental resources and assets together with a summary of the approach adopted in each section of the Plan in terms of safeguarding those resources.

14.2.3 The Plan Strategy and Objectives (Section 3 and Section 4) incorporate the fundamental principles of safeguarding the environment, in the broadest sense, while providing for the employment, housing, recreational and social needs of the local community through pursuing development which is sustainable. In progressing to the Deposit stage the strategy and objectives were simplified to provide a clearer and more concise basis for the plan and its policies and the objectives, in particular, have provided a strong focus for considering comments and options and drafting policies at different stages of the process. Each policy section of the Plan identifies the objectives being carried forward and the environmental implications of its approach.

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Figure 1: Environmental Stock Criteria, Penwith Local Plan

General Criteria Indicators
Global Sustainability - primarily concerned with atmospheric and climatic stability and with the conservation of biodiversity
Transport Energy Efficiency * reducing trip length
* reducing number of trips by private car
* safeguarding/increasing public transport share
* increasing attraction of walking and cycling
* safeguarding/increasing opportunities for sea transport
* safeguarding/increasing opportunities for rail freight transport
Built Environment Energy Efficiency * reducing heat loss from buildings
* reducing energy requirements in manufacturing/construction
* increasing combined heat and power (CHP) potential
Renewable Energy Potential * safeguarding wind, water, wave and biomass potential
* increasing direct solar gain
* increasing renewable energy generation
Rate of CO2 "Fixing * increasing tree cover especially broad-leaved woodland
* retaining existing trees
Wildlife Habitats * safeguarding designated sites (eg SSSIs)
* increasing general wildlife potential (eg corridors)
* safeguarding biodiversity
Natural Resources - husbanding of resources concerned with appropriate use and, where necessary, appropriate protection of our resources of air, water, the land and its minerals
Air Quality * reducing levels of pollutants
Water Conservation and Quality * maintaining ground water and river levels
* safeguarding water supply purity
Land and Soil Quality * safeguarding soil quality and soil retention
* reducing contamination/dereliction
* safeguarding good quality agricultural land
Conservation of Minerals/Raw Materials * reduce consumption of fossil fuels and minerals
* increase reuse/recycling of materials
Local Environmental Quality - conservation of local environmental quality concerned with the protection and enhancement (and sometimes retrieval) of local environmental features and systems ranging from landscape and open land to cultural heritage
Landscape and Open Land * safeguarding and enhancing designated areas (AONBs etc)
* safeguarding and enhancing general landscape quality and character
* retaining countryside/open land
Built Environment "Liveability" * enhancing/retaining townscape quality and character of villages
* increasing safety and sense of security
* improving aural and olfactory environment
* avoiding light pollution
* regeneration/revitalisation of communities
* vitality/viability of town and village centres
Cultural Heritage * safeguarding Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas
* safeguarding archaeological/geological value
* safeguarding special character of the District
Public Access and Enjoyment of Open Space * increasing/maintaining quality and availability of open space in urban and rural areas
* increasing/maintaining public access to water and the countryside
Building Quality and Use * maintaining/improving the maintenance and continuous renewal of buildings
* making efficient use of existing buildings

14.2.4 A 'needs led' approach was an important element in the earliest stages of preparing the Plan and has been retained through the process as a means of pursuing sustainable development, particularly in relation to the use of land. For example, if the rate at which sites are granted planning permission for housing is not related to the need for such development, that is to the number of additional dwellings required to meet population growth and the increase in the number of separate households, suitable housing sites are likely to be developed in advance of the requirement and will not remain available, therefore, to meet the need for housing in the future.

14.2.5 All development will have an impact on the environment, through the use of energy, materials and land apart from any other implications. However, the Local Plan can only have an influence within the scope of its policies. These have been written within the context of national, regional and County Structure Plan policies and must generally conform with those policies. While there can still be a strong Penwith emphasis, which reflects the special character, needs and circumstances of the District and its residents, there are limitations imposed by national planning guidance on how far development can be restricted. As a result many policies seek to manage land use change so as to minimise adverse environmental impact and it is on this basis that appraisal has been carried out.

14.2.6 In addition, in line with the guidance applicable during the Plan's preparation, the criteria and indicators used in the appraisal reflect aspects of the environmental stock rather than the broader social aspects of sustainability. As a result policy approaches may be shown as having an insignificant or unknown environmental impact without the positive social impact which is an important element of sustainable development and meeting local needs. The emphasis
on Sustainability Appraisal that is to be a fundamental part of the new development plan system will redress this imbalance in future.

14.2.7 Policies focus new development on the main towns and those villages which have a range of community facilities and a practical public transport service. They therefore allow for a reduction in car trips and an increase in use of public transport and have been appraised on that basis. The actual extent to which such environmental benefits will result, especially in a District that has almost half its population living outside the three main urban areas, is less certain.

14.2.8 The Plan's policies have been grouped under relevant headings as part of the appraisal process and the matrix (Figure 2) sets out the results. They have been assessed on the basis of their individual wording; however, all development proposals are subject to the requirements of the General Development Guidance policies as well as to specific policy requirements. These policies, which have been assessed as a separate group, will usually be significant in ensuring that the environmental impact of development is minimised.

Figure 2 : Environmental Appraisal - Policy Impact Matrix

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