Strategic Environmental Assesment
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Strategic Environmental Assesment

The Strategic Environmental Assessment, (SEA) is a process, undertaken in line with Subsidiary Legislation 549.61, which is intended to ensure a high level of protection of the environment, and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes in a way to promote sustainable development.  

A SEA may be required for plans and programmes prepared for different areas, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, transport, waste management, water management, telecommunications, tourism, town and country planning or land use, and which set the framework for future development consent of projects listed in Annexes I and II to Directive 85/337/EEC; or which, in view of the likely effect on sites, have been determined to require an assessment pursuant to Article 6 or 7 of Directive 92/43/EEC.

The SEA process ensures that a consultative mechanism is in place with both the public and pertinent authorities. The Authority in charge of delivering the plan or programme and undertaking the assessments (defined as Responsible Authority) is required to consult with various Authorities (Designated Authorities), which, by reason of their specific responsibilities, are likely to be concerned by the environmental effects of implementing plans and programmes, to take into consideration the likely environmental and health impacts of draft plan or programme. Throughout the assessment, the Responsible Authority shall ensure that a screening and scoping reports are provided, outlining the potential impacts as well as the opportunities in delivering the plan or programme. Hence, the Responsible Authority shall also ensure that an Environmental Report - describing and evaluating the likely significant environmental, including health, effects of implementing the plan or programme, its reasonable alternatives, and measures envisaged to prevent any significant adverse effects on the environment - is compiled and published. 

A participatory process is also ensured through a public consultation procedure. The Responsible Authority shall ensure that the draft plan or programme and the environmental report are available to the public, who is affected or likely to be affected as well as non-governmental organisations, such as those promoting environmental protection and other organisations concerned. 

A SEA also takes into account the possible transboundary effects on other Member States as a result of the proponent’s plan or programme. In this respect, the Responsible Authority shall also ensure that any transboundary effect is taken into consideration, notifying and consulting the affected Member States and ensuring that environmental impacts and possible alternatives are taken into account. 

The Environmental Report, the opinions of the Designated Authorities and the public on the draft plan and the result of any transboundary consultations shall be considered during the finalisation of the plan or programme before its adoption. The Responsible Authority shall also carry out the necessary monitoring of significant environmental effects of the implementation of plans or programmes in order to identify at an early stage unforeseen adverse effects, and to be able to undertake appropriate remedial action.

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