The purpose of the pilot project was to build capacities of the Republic of Moldova in application of SEA procedures at a national and local level, and to raise awareness of SEA benefits among various national stakeholders. The Master Plan for Orhei town was selected as a pilot urban plan in order to:
- test and demonstrate opportunities of practical application of the draft law on SEA in the Republic of Molodva
- develop recommendations for further improvement of national legislative and institutional frameworks on SEA in a country.
Recommendations for environmental optimisation and modifications of the Orhei town Master Plan were also developed to demonstrate SEA benefits in the planning process.
A pilot project was conducted by a team of national experts with support from qualified international consultants and the UNECE secretariat. The project have been carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Development and Construction (MRDC) of Moldova and the Orhei municipality.
The tentative time frame of the pilot project was extended from 30 June 2014 to 30 June 2015.
SEA for the Master Plan of Orhei Town
The SEA for the Master Plan of Orhei Town was conducted in line with main principles set out in the UNECE Protocol on SEA in order to generate practical experience with SEA process as well as to test applicability of the draft legislation on SEA in the Republic of Moldova.The pilot SEA took place in parallel with the process of actualisation of the Master Plan of Orhei so that the SEA-driven consultations as well as analyses prepared by SEA team served to optimization of the Master Plan from the environmental point of view.
The SEA process had following phases:
• Establishment of SEA team, initial consultations and identification of stakeholders (July – August 2014).
• Scoping: identification of key relevant environmental concerns, including a public Scoping Workshop, several targeted consultations, and the preparation of a Scoping Report (end of July – October 2014).
• Environmental baseline analzsis (October 2014 – December 2014).
• Evaluation of risks and potential for cumulative environmental effects, and considering alternatives (December 2014 – February 2015).
• Development of recommendations for mitigation measures and environmental monitoring (February – March 2015).
• Preparation of SEA Environmental Report and conducting public consultations (January – June 2015).
The SEA process highlighted major environmental and public health concerns in Orhei, such as the presence of the open stone mines within the city limits, vulnerability of certain areas to flooding, the transport-related pollution in the city center, deficiencies in waste water treatment, poor state of the existing landfill, lack of management and maintenance of the Nature and Paleontological Monument „Defile Orhei”, and limited areas available for spatial development.
SEA Evaluation of the Master Plan of Orhei Town
The national SEA team - guided by UNECE experts - evaluated individual components of the Master Plan in order to identify potential for negative environmental impacts of the planned developments as well as potential conflicts with environmental policy goals established in other strategic documents.
This allowed to formulate - in agreement with planners - a number of measures to prevent, reduce or mitigate identified potential negative consequences for the environment and public health, which should be of priority in the context of the Master Plan implementation:
• The development a system of drainage, which will reduce water pollution, and improve environmental and sanitary conditions of the city.
• The modernization of waste management infrastructure (provision of platforms and containers for separate waste collection, etc.) in order to help reduce pollution and littering, increase recycling and reuse of secondary resources, and facilitate implementation of environmentally sound approaches in the field of waste management.
• Ensuring basic monitoring of air quality in the city center and on the highway of national significance and the monitoring of water quality (environmental and health indicators).
• Development of a management plan for the natural monument “Defile Orhei” and delimitation of its boundaries in the territory will improve the safety and protection of the monument.
While considering the potential impacts of planned spatial development, SEA experts proposed an alternative routing of a projected bypass road in order to minimize potential negative environmental impacts on the paleontological monument protected by the state “Defile Orhei”. This alternative has been adopted in the Master Plan.
Benefits of the Pilot SEA Process in Orhei Town
• The SEA process provided support to the Master Plan development team in the identification of the major environmental problems and in obtaining new data, necessary for the environmental chapter and environment-related maps of the Master Plan.
• SEA facilitated the dialogue between local authorities and municipal services in the city; environmental and health authorities have participated on the Master Plan development and environmental problems evaluation through the SEA-initiated consultations; public was widely involved.
• The local priority environmental problems were highlighted and can be presented to the national level authorities, in cases their assistance (e.g. financial) is necessary for effective solution.
• Data gaps identified during the evaluation helped to formulate the needs to change/upgrade the data collection schemes for rayon and national statistical reporting.
• Measures and indicators for the monitoring of the performance of the new Master Plan from environmental point of view were developed in the framework of the SEA.
• The SEA facilitated identification of potential for improvement in the existing draft Law on SEA in Moldova.
• The SEA process raised awareness regarding the environment and urban planning among concerned public.
UNECE’s pilot project on SEA in Moldova helped prevent, reduce and mitigate potential negative consequences for the environment and public health in the Orhei region.
Pilot project description and plan is accessible here.
The final results of the pilot project published in a comprehensive report are available in ENG and will be shortly in ROM.
A brief summary report of implementation of the pilot SEA of the Orhei Town Master Plan (Available in English).