The choice of indicators for each objective should be a matter for local discretion depending on the relevant importance of each objective locally, and the availability of local data, in order to simplify the collection of data. It is reasonable to stipulate that you need to know about present and future scenarios, but could be subjective and prone to bias if there are no guidelines or standards to follow. The attempt to link environmental assessment at a strategic level and sustainability appraisal leads to a very complex process.
The two exercises are complementary, but may be better done in parallel rather than together. The objectives to be assessed are unbalanced with 21 relating to the environment, 6 to social The Scoping stage is probably too detailed, risking repetition at the Environmental Report stage. The Scoping exercise should be broad-brush, not too detailed, allowing for an overview to identify key issues.
The need should be based on the community strategy, thus integrating the plan as a means, but not necessarily the only or best means of implementing that strategy. The requirement to generate and to assess the impact of other options is welcome. It can supplement a sustainability appraisal based solely on the presence of stated objectives, which by itself cannot ensure that the objectives are implemented in a sustainable way, with the minimum of adverse impact on long-term options or people outside the particular community.
It is arguable whether objective-based appraisals so far have adequately assessed such impacts. The examples of possible options in Figure 9 are clear, but see comment on the range of options. The assessment of detailed designs may be more appropriate in a separate project-level assessment. The emphasis in the draft Guidance on the need for simultaneous preparation and appraisal of the Plan is welcomed. But to assist Councils and public to understand how to achieve sustainable plans in the first place a fuller range of options needs to be given. This should cover all topics, but with a wider range of examples for each topics.
Thus there is little in the housing example about the scope for energy-efficient design, e.g. orientation of dwellings, provision for renewable energy, e.g. solar panels, energy-efficient construction techniques and materials, provision of social housing, and location of this housing closer to bus routes than private housing with higher car-ownership. In particular fuller explanations of how to achieve social inclusion with minimum environmental impact are a key topic where guidance would be useful.