Strategic Environmental Assessment: EU directives and UK legislation

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Strategic Environmental Assessment, or SEA, became a European requirement by means of EU Directive 2001/42/EC and was adopted into UK law in 2004 via the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 and its Scottish equivalent.

The SEA Directive introduced a requirement for a formal environmental assessment of certain plans and programmes which are likely to have significant effects on the environment.

Assessments are usually mandatory for plans and programmes:

  • which are prepared for 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 for projects listed in Annexes I and II to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (85/337/EEC as amended by 97/11/EC)
  • requiring assessment under Article 6 or 7 of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC)

Authorities which prepare and/or adopt a plan or programme that is subject to the Directive must prepare a report on its likely significant environmental effects, consult environmental authorities and the public, and take the report and the results of the consultation into account during the preparation process and before the plan or programme is adopted. They must also make information available on the plan or programme as adopted and how the environmental assessment was taken into account.

Page last updated: 12 May 2010