Regional Environmental Assessment Framework

A Regional Environmental Assessment (REA) is an environmental framework applied to policies, plans and programmes that evaluates environmental impacts and associated risks at a strategic level.

ACRE has developed a draft REA which is under formal consultation that will be applied to the Programme that will allow the Environmental Statements (ES), that are required to support each consent application to feed information on specific concerns and effects.

The REA assesses the potential cumulative impact of the Programme on the environment in combination with other known developments in the wider area and will consider cumulative impacts. These may include future tidal device schemes within the wider area, in addition to any French developments that might be relevant and have a cumulative impact pathway.

The approach to REA differs from EIA in one key area. Because EIAs take place only once many strategic decisions have already been made, they can often address only a limited range of alternatives and mitigation measures, whilst those of a wider nature are generally poorly integrated into project planning

This fundamental difference in approach leads to a variety of differences between the application, output and outcomes of both REA and EIA.

Table below indicates the major differences between EIA and REA processes:

 

EIA of Projects

Takes place near the end of the decision-making cycle and aims to identify and mitigate impacts so as to minimise them

Reactive approach to a development proposal

Considers a limited amount of feasible alternatives but usually project type and location is fixed

Limited review of cumulative effects

Emphasis on mitigating and minimising impacts

Narrow perspective with a high level of detail

Well-defined process, clear beginning and end

Focuses on standard project agenda

"Treats" environmental deterioration

REA of Plans and Programmes

Takes place at earlier stages of decision making and aims to identify and prevent impacts.

Pro-active approach that sometimes generates certain development proposals and halts unsuitable proposals before they are progressed, thus focusing resources.

Considers a broad range of potential alternatives over a wide location

Cumulative effects assessment is key to REA

Emphasis on meeting overall project objectives, environmental objectives and maintaining natural systems

Broad perspective with a low level of detail to provide vision and overall framework

Multi-stage process, overlapping components and is a continuous and iterative process

Focuses on sustainability agenda

"Gets at the source" of environmental deterioration

 

ARE is developing an Assessment Framework to enable effective delivery of the consenting process for the Individual Projects within the Programme. These Individual Projects will each require an ES to be prepared and submitted to ACRE for approval.

Each Individual Project and other related consent applications will address similar issues including:

  • Disturbance to the seabed
  • Interaction with marine ecology
  • Electromagnetic disturbance
  • Change to water flow patterns
  • Energy density and significant impact factor
  • Interaction with shipping and fishing activities
  • Cumulative impacts with the deployment of each Individual Project

 

ARE is the catalyst for delivering low carbon energy to the UK and Europe