Good practice guidelines for practitioners who need to consider strategic environmental assessment as part of their work.
What is Strategic Environmental Assessment?
A Strategic Environmental Assesment (SEA) is intended to increase the consideration of environmental issues during decision making related to strategic documents such as plans, programmes and strategies.
The SEA identifies the significant environmental effects that are likely to result from the implementation of the plan or alternative approaches to the plan.
The findings of the assessment are presented in an environmental report that is consulted upon, with the public, alongside a draft of the plan. Issues raised in the environmental report and in responses to the consultation must be considered by the plan-maker before the plan is formally adopted.
What does SEA involve?
SEA can be broken down into distinct stages or steps. The stages below are based on activities set out in the SEA Directive and the former ODPM’s Guidance:
- its purpose,
- when it is undertaken,
- what is undertaken,
- what outputs are produced, and
- who may be consulted / involved.
How do I find out if a plan requires SEA?
This process is know as screening and is undertaken to determine whether a plan or programme requires SEA.
Some plans automatically require SEA due to meeting the criteria defined in the Directive, whilst other plans and modifications to some existing plans must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
If you are the plan-maker, it is your responsibility to identify whether your plan/programme meets the criteria established in the Directive and hence requires SEA.
Where the requirement for SEA is determined on a case by case basis the plan-maker must consult the statutory consultation bodies. Annex II of the Directive sets out 'significance criteria' to guide the plan maker and statutory consultation bodies at this stage of the process.
Where a screening consultation is undertaken the plan maker is required to produce a screening determination, which must be made publicly available.