Section 7 – Exemptions: pre-screening
22.Section 7 introduces pre-screening but only for plans and programmes referred to in section 5(4)(see paragraph 15). This is essentially an in-house review carried out by the Responsible Authority to determine whether an environmental assessment is required. When exempting a plan or programme at the pre-screening stage, Responsible Authorities are not required to consult formally either the Consultation Authorities or the public.
23.When carrying out a pre-screening the Responsible Authority has to decide whether the plan or programme will have no or minimal environmental effects, in which case they may determine that an environmental assessment is not required. Responsible Authorities are required, by section 7 (2) to apply the schedule 2 criteria in making this determination.
24.Having made a determination the Responsible Authorities must notify the consultation authorities as soon as practicable. The notification should include the title of the plan or programme, the date of the opinion and a brief description of the plan or programme, including the area or location to which the plan relates.
25.Section 7(5) requires Scottish Ministers to ensure the maintenance of a register of the pre-screening notifications made under 7(3). The register of notifications is required to be available for public inspection and may include other information in relation to the plan or programme at the discretion of Scottish Ministers.
26.The intention of the pre-screening provisions is to ensure that the Act is effectively targeted at those plans and programmes which are likely to have significant effects on the environment. It will also reduce administration.