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Abolishing regional strategy would have similar effects to keeping it, says report

Revocation of the West Midlands Regional Strategy (RS) is likely to have similar environmental effects to its retention, a new Government consultation document shows. 29 Nov 2012

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published for consultation a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) (133-page / 1.93MB PDF) on the likely significant environmental effects of revocation of the West Midlands Plan and the regional economic strategy, which together form the West Midlands RS.

The report concludes that there will be "significant positive environmental effects" if the regional strategy is revoked. However, it says that these effects will be "largely similar" to those if the RS is retained.

Water resources are identified as the only area where revocation would have a "significant negative effect", however, a "similar policy performance" is recorded where the RS is retained.

The report says that the "broad strategic nature" of RS policies and the degree to which responsibilities have already been devolved to local authorities make it "difficult to identify clear differences" between the effect of retention and revocation.

The clearest differences are shown in relation to housing and employment development where the report said a "locally-led approach" could ensure that any adverse effects are "more effectively mitigated". "This could be through a more detailed understanding of local environmental capacity issues and possibly more diverse and locally-specific spatial distributions of development," the report said.

The Government introduced abolition of RSs in the Localism Act 2011. The consultation report succeeds a previous environmental report on the revocation of the West Midlands regional strategy which was consulted on between October 2011 and January 2012. However, the DCLG said this report is a "stand-alone" document with an "up-to-date comprehensive assessment" and that there is no "need to refer back to the previous environmental report".

The consultation closes on 24 January.