ENVIRONMENTAL APPRAISAL OF THE LOCAL PLAN
11.1 Most forms of development unavoidably consume land, energy and materials and may also cause visual intrusion, the disturbance of wildlife and habitats, the break up of agricultural units and contamination through noise and fumes. The Town and Country Planning (Development Plan) Regulations 1991 require Local Planning Authorities to take account of environmental issues in the formulation of policies and proposals in their local plan.
11.2 Development plans have a key role to play in implementing the UK Strategy for Sustainable Development. PPG12 Development Plans (December 1999) requires local authorities to carry out an environmental appraisal of their development plans. The aim of such appraisals is to assess the environmental impact of development proposals and policies at a local, and if appropriate at national and global levels. It is the integration of overall environmental awareness into the preparation of the local plan, and the decision-making process which results from it, which needs to be addressed so that development and growth are compatible and sustainable.
11.3 In preparing this local plan the district council has paid detailed attention to environmental issues, and in particular it has sought to minimise the impact of development. An environmental appraisal of the consultation draft local plan was carried out in 1996 and 1997 with input from independent consultants David Tyldesley and Associates. The conclusions and recommendations of this appraisal were incorporated into the deposit version of the plan which was in turn subject to appraisal. The environmental appraisal of the Bolsover District Local Plan is published separately and the main conclusions for each chapter have been summarised below.
11.4 The environmental appraisal used the 14 criteria listed below as objectives against which the policies and proposals of the plan were assessed:
Energy Consumption/Global Sustainability
1) Minimise trips made by car or lorry;
4) Encourage greater use of renewable energy sources and prevent development
of sites which may be suitable for renewable energy schemes;
10) Protect and improve visual appearance of and access to open landscape;
Paragraphs 11.5 to 11.20 below provide a summary of what the Environmental Appraisal said about the Deposit Draft Bolsover District Local Plan. NOTE: Although the comments were about the deposit version of the local plan, for ease of reference policy numbers quoted in paragraphs 11.5 to 11.20 below relate to this new, adopted version of the local plan, unless otherwise indicated.
THEMES AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES (Appraisal Summary)
11.5 This chapter contains the general policies against which most development proposals will be considered. In particular the chapter contains policies GEN 1 - Minimum Requirements for Development, and GEN 2 - Impact of Development on the Environment, which should be used in the consideration of all development proposals, to control general issues of design, layout, infrastructure requirements as well as issues concerning the effect of proposals on the environment. The chapter also sets out the locational strategy of the plan to concentrate development in or adjoining existing settlements and includes policies to restrict development within the Green Belt. More specific issues relating to specific types of development in certain locations are covered by policies in subsequent chapters.
11.6 Overall the policies will have a positive impact on the fourteen
environmental criteria, in particular the chapter will have a positive
impact on the Natural Resources and the Environmental Quality categories.
This is particularly important as these policies will apply to the majority
of the development proposals considered by the council and should ensure
that where proposals may have an adverse impact on the environment this
impact may be lessened.
11.7 The district must follow national and regional guidance and make provision for sufficient new houses to at least meet the needs of the local population. Meeting this requirement will inevitably involve the loss of some open land and will have an adverse affect on wildlife habitats, drainage patterns and on the open or built environment. Despite this, the objectives of the policies in this chapter can be seen to go some way towards negating the potential adverse impact on the environment by concentrating development within existing settlements, therefore reducing the need to travel and reducing the impact on landscape, wildlife and high quality land, and by trying to ensure that such development makes a positive contribution to the objectives of environmental sustainability.
11.8 Three policies in this chapter do, however, run contrary to this principle, and have been assessed as having an overall adverse impact on some of the environmental criteria. Policies HOU 7 Low Cost Local Needs Housing for Small Settlements in the Countryside, HOU 8 Replacement or Extension of Existing Dwellings in the Countryside and HOU 9 Essential New Dwellings in the Countryside, allow for housing development (small scale) in the open countryside, subject to a number of criteria. These policies are "exceptions" where development will only be allowed in certain circumstances, it is considered that such development, if justified, should be permitted as it meets a social need.
EMPLOYMENT (Appraisal Summary)
11.9 The district has to meet its regional requirements to provide for additional employment opportunities; it is also a local objective to achieve a reduction in unemployment and aid the regeneration of the district. Generally, the policies of this chapter try to negate the potential adverse impact of development by concentrating new employment development within or adjoining existing settlement where it is easily accessible to large numbers of people and public transport routes, by promoting the redevelopment of brownfield sites and existing employment buildings, and by encouraging the use of existing infrastructure, particularly public transport. Such a strategy will have a positive impact by encouraging a reduction in car/lorry journeys.
11.10 Policies EMP 1 Key Employment Site on land adjoining Pinxton Castle and EMP 10 Sites for Large Firms do however raise concern regarding car/lorry trip generation (this is compensated for by the requirement to provide access to the site by public transport, walking and cycling), impact on wildlife habitats, water quality, land and soil, and on the open land / landscape. These proposals are justified by the overriding need to ensure that appropriate sites are available for employment generating uses. Care has been taken to ensure that such development will have as limited a detrimental impact as possible.
11.11 Existing employment development at Rough Close, South Normanton and Coalite Chemicals, Bolsover (policies EMP 11 - EMP 19) score negatively on a number of counts. These are, however, existing uses and the council can only, therefore, control future expansion or diversification proposals put forward by the users.
SHOPPING AND TOWN CENTRES (Appraisal Summary)
11.12 One of the Council's objectives is to support and promote the existing town centres as the focus for retail development in the district, the plan also supports the provision of local shops to serve local communities. Overall, the policies of this chapter are likely to have a beneficial impact on the criteria particularly with regard to car/lorry trips, public transport/cycling/walking, urban/built environment and building quality.
11.13 Policy SAC 6 Car Parking in Town Centres may have a negative impact
on the sustainability objectives, as the provision of additional car parking
facilities can encourage more car borne journeys, whilst large areas of
car parking generally has a detrimental impact on the urban environment.
Policy SAC 11 Retail Uses at Horticultural Nurseries, Farms and Factories
may result in an increase in local car
COMMUNITY FACILITIES, RECREATION, LEISURE AND TOURISM (Appraisal Summary)
11.15 The policies of this chapter have, potentially, the greatest impact on the Environmental Quality category, in particular the urban / built environment and access to open space and countryside criteria. The chapter encourages provision of new and the protection of existing community facilities and open space, which will help to improve people's living environment. This approach will also contribute to a reduction in the need to travel, as facilities should be provided close to home where they can be accessed on foot and by bicycle and public transport.
11.16 Policies CLT 5 Large Scale Indoor Sport and Recreation Facilities
and CLT 8
TRANSPORT (Appraisal Summary)
11.17 The general principle of this chapter is to promote alternative transport to the private car and lorry. Of particular importance is the requirement for all major new development to make provision for access by public transport, cycling and walking and the set of policies promoting the re-use of railway lines in the district, especially those for freight transport. These policies will have a beneficial effect on the Energy Consumption and Natural Resources categories, particularly car/lorry trips, public transport and air quality, landscape/open land, land and soil quality and mineral conservation. A reduction in the reliance on cars will lead to a reduction in the need to improve or construct new roads which in turn will contribute to improving peoples' living environments. Road improvement schemes, bypasses, traffic calming and management schemes can make a positive contribution to improving the quality of the living environment and therefore making towns and villages better places to live and work.
11.18 The policies and proposals of this chapter, with the exception of TRA 14 Parking Provision, generally meet the sustainability goals.
CONSERVATION OF THE HISTORIC AND BUILT ENVIRONMENT
11.19 Overall the policies of this chapter are aimed at preserving and enhancing the character and appearance of conservation areas, listed buildings, ancient monuments, and archaeological remains. This is to be achieved by controlling development, change of use and demolition. The chapter therefore has the most significant impact on the Environmental Quality category, but has little impact on the energy consumption and natural resources categories, although the conservation and reuse of buildings will have a positive impact on energy consumption categories, particularly building energy efficiency.
COUNTRYSIDE AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT (Appraisal Summary)
11.20 The overall objectives of this chapter are to restrict development
and to control its impact on the natural environment. As such the policies
will generally have a beneficial impact on the 14 environmental criteria
listed in paragraph 11.4. Specific policy protection is given to nature
conservation sites, protected species, biodiversity, trees and woodland.
The general countryside policies of the chapter promote protection of
the open countryside and high quality agricultural land. Policies ENV
1, ENV 3 and ENV 4 concerning development relating to agricultural uses
and development in the countryside may, by their nature, increase car/lorry
trips, and are unlikely to be served by public transport or have easy
access to facilities on foot or by cycle. Such developments are restricted
by the policies, and will only be permitted in certain circumstances where
it is necessary or would be unreasonable to resist. Where such development
is allowed the provisions of the plan should minimise the overall impact
of the development on the environment.