In this paper, current practice in the environmentalappraisal of development plans in England and Wales is examined. The results of a detailed study of fourteen local authorities are presented. A comparative analysis of local authority practice demonstrates that there are considerable variations in the extent to which environmental appraisals have been carried out and that there are no universal standards against which the appraisals can be compared. The existing guidance on the environmental appraisal of development plans available in England and Wales appears to be an important starting point for many local authorities in the preparation of their own appraisals but this guidance is being superseded in some authorities. A proposed European directive is likely to require practice in the environmental appraisal of UK development plans to be strengthened. Suggestions for improving the environmental appraisal of development plans in the future are advanced.