Sustainability Appraisal, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitat Regulations Assessments

Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) are mandatory for many strategies, major projects and spatial plans being developed by public authorities. These processes ensure that the likely impacts are understood, assessed, widely consulted on, accounted for in decision-making, avoided or mitigated and monitored during implementation.  

SA and SEA need to be integral parts of the process for developing planning documents such as Core Strategies and Local Plans and can greatly enhance the quality and sustainability of adopted policies. It is critical that the SA/SEA process complies with EU and Government regulations and guidance, and experience has shown that inadequate SA/SEA can be subject to legal challenge, delaying the adoption of plans, adding costs and posing reputational risks.

With changes to the national planning policy context, such as the replacement of Planning Policy Statements with the forthcoming National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the SA and SEA processes will become even more important in ensuring the plans and strategies contribute to and underpin sustainable development.

URSUS has many years experience in undertaking fully compliant SA/SEA and we developed an approach which for meeting SA/SEA challenges, founded on partnership with our clients, tailor-made approaches for each appraisal, effective stakeholder communications and flexibility with shifting circumstances. These aspects are coupled with our sound technical expertise, an understanding of the importance of realism and practicability, and clearly written communications. We have supported and advised public authorities across the UK who tell us, time and again, that we have helped them to turn a legal requirement into a useful and effective tool for improved plan-making.

In support of the SA/SEA process, we also provide clients with a range of other key appraisal and assessment services, including GIS, Habitats Regulations Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, Health Impact Assessment, Equalities Impact Assessment, Rural Proofing and indicator development.

Case studies:

Examples of our work include:

  • Independent Assessment of Sustainability Appraisal, SEAs and HRA for Local Development Plans.  We are currently assisting a number of Local Authorities in the West Midlands in the role of independent advisor on SEA of local planning documents such as Core Strategies and Site Allocation Documents.  We advise them on the methodology and approach to carrying out the work in-house, review and interpret the results, including representation at Examination in Public, if required.
  • SA and HRA of Regional Spatial Strategy Revision, for West Midlands Regional Assembly and Government Office West Midlands:  We undertook work spanning a number of years and a succession of stages in the revision process of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy, providing spatial definition supported by sound analysis and evidence.  We also organised and analysed nearly 1000 responses at the public consultation stage using online survey techniques.
  • North West SA/SEA, Equalities Impact Assessment, Health Impact Assessment and Rural Proofing of the Regional Strategy for the North West Development Agency. We undertook work spanning a number of years and a succession of stages in the revision process providing sound analysis and identifying a number of hidden opportunities for increased sustainability.
  • Sustainability Appraisal of Draft Regional Business Plan for London 2012 Olympics, for the East of England Development Agency: Providing opportunities for strengthening sustainability in subsequent stakeholder processes.
  • Training on Sustainability Appraisal and SEA for local authority planning officers and regional partners in Yorkshire and Humber.


Hilary Livesey
Tel. 07917 205 871
Stephen Owen
Tel. 07720 416 356


URSUS Consulting Ltd. Registered in England & Wales, company registration number: 5326647, VAT 866 4105 18. Quality BS EN ISO 9001:2008 – Certificate number GB2002687