Strategic Environmental Assessment

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is driven by EU legislation. It is a process whereby environmental considerations can be factored into plans and programmes that are made by public authorities. It is an important piece of legislation as it opens up decision-making to the public at an early stage and allows those affected by such plans and programmes to have their say before final decisions are made. In that way, foreseeable mistakes can be avoided and the best environmental option can be selected.

A review of SEA carried out in 2012 found that SEA is having an influence on the overall plan-making process in Ireland. It has made decisions more transparent, and SEA findings are generally incorporated into plans. That said, those legislative instruments that have more ‘teeth’, such as appropriate assessment, currently appear to have more influence than SEA (EPA, 2012).
More information on SEAs can be found here.

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