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Strategic Environmental Assessments set a framework for providing a high level of protection of the environment by ensuring that the environmental dimension is integrated in the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes by Government.  These regulations also contribute towards the promotion of sustainable development by ensuring that an environmental assessment is carried out on plans and programmes and that these are also subject to the widest possible level of public consultation.
SEAs seek to address the source of environmental deterioration, 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 and to serve 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 such findings resulting from the SEA process.