6 Environment and Climate Change
Climate change is recognised as a significant global environmental problem and this is why this is one of the cross cutting themes of this Development Plan. Evidence of this can be seen in the changes to our average temperature, rainfall intensity / patterns, increased flooding and extreme weather events. It is accepted that this is likely to continue and that we need to adapt to these changes. In December 2012 the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DoECLG) published the “National Climate Change Adaptation Framework”. The framework requires local authorities to integrate climate change adaptation into development planning. Climate change adaptation will inform policies and objectives throughout the Development Plan process with increased emphasis on sustainable development and travel patterns, energy use and the protection of green infrastructure.
Resilience to climate change impacts can be improved by well-designed places and buildings. Carbon emissions can be reduced through, for instance, good physical connections with surrounding areas which encourages walking and cycling and by having easier access to public transport.
As part of the Development Plan review Kilkenny County Council is required to carry out a number of environmental assessments. These include a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), an Appropriate Assessment (AA) and also a Flood Risk Assessment (FRA).
Strategic Environmental Assessment
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Development Plans is required under the EU SEA Directive 2001/42/EC. SEA is a statutory process, involving the evaluation of the likely significant environmental effects of implementing the new Development Plan before a decision has been made to adopt it. The objective of the SEA process is to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and promote sustainable development by contributing to the integration of environmental considerations with the preparation of statutory plans.
Habitats Directive and Appropriate Assessment
The Development Plan will be subject to Appropriate Assessment, as required by the European Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). The Directive aims to create a network of protected wildlife sites in Europe through the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) collectively known as Natura 2000 sites. Appropriate Assessment is a focused and detailed impact assessment of the implications of the Development Plan, separate from and in combination with other plans and projects, on the integrity of Natura 2000 sites in view of the conservation objectives of the sites. At present, within Kilkenny there are 8 SAC sites and 1 SPA site.
In recent years, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of factoring the risk to people, property, the overall economy and the environment from flooding into the planning system. In 2009, the Government produced Guidelines to integrate Flood Risk Management into the planning process.
A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment was carried out for the county as part of the last Development Plan in 2014, and this will be revised as part of this Development Plan. This assessment will establish the areas of flood risk and will ensure that development takes due account of this risk. This report will be published as part of the Draft Plan and will be available for comment.
 Full details of the SACs and SPAs h can be obtained from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (www.npws.ie), where detailed descriptions including Qualifying/Feature Interests and Site Specific Conservation Objectives can be sourced