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Strategic Environmental Assessments set a framework for providing a high level protection to the environment by ensuring that the environmental dimension is integrated in the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes. These regulations also contribute towards the promotion of sustainable development by ensuring that plans and programmes are well assessed and subject to the widest possible level of public consultation.

SEA seeks to address environmental deterioration at the source, assisting decision-makers to identify best environmental options early in the decision-making process (at plan or programme-making stage), before specific development proposals have been prepared. SEAs are intended to commence pari passu with the development of plans and programmes to ensure that they provide a constant input that will allow that plan or programme to factor in the environmental dimension at all stages of its development. The assessment also serves as a tool for the assessment of proposed options at the earliest possible stage, with a view to ensure that proposed options are revised to take into account findings resulting from the SEA process.