Strategic Environmental Assessment

We have seen that the EIA process is usually applied in major development projects to ensure that likely environmental problems are anticipated and appropriate mitigation measures proposed before project commencement and throughout the project cycle.

It however became obvious with the global environmental issues and an increased need for a sustainable development that the EIA process occurred too late in the planning process. Strategic Environmental assessment developed from the application of the tenets of the EIA process to actions including policies, plans and programmes.

SEA is defined by Therivel as “the formailsed, systematic and comprehensive process of evaluating the environmental impacts of a policy, plan, programme and its alternatives,

including the preparation of a written report on the findings of that evaluation, and using the findings in publicly accountable decision making”.

Policies were defined by Glasson et al. as an inspiration and guidance for action. Plans were defined as sets of co-ordinated and timed objectives for the implementation of policy. Programmes are sets of projects in a particular area

EIASEA
Actions are immediate, operationalActions are strategic, visionary, conceptual
Detailed decisions to do with location, design, construction, operation of a projectWide development options e.g. fiscal, regulatory, organizational, spatial
Short or medium timelineMedium or long timeline
Reactive, mitigates negative impacts by designProactive, prevents negative impacts, promotes positive chances
Focus, methods and techniques specific. More structured.Focus, methods and techniques change based on decision making level of practitioner
More specific assessment methods legal and industry requirements in assessment. Rigour more certainAssessment based on professional judgements objective benchmarks and good practice. Rigour more uncertain
Uses more quantitative dataUses more qualitative data
Less geared towards sustainable development due to methodologyMore geared towards sustainable development Due to methodology

SEA Procedures

These procedures may be:

EIA based- structured and rigorous using specific steps

Non EIA based- less structured and less rigorous used for decision making and higher policy making

Advantages of SEA

Encourages consideration of environmental objectives during policy, plan and programme making for all organizations

Helps consultation between all stake holders

Enables formulation of standard mitigation measures

Encourages consideration of alternatives rejected in EIA

Helps in the location of the right sites for projects before EIA

Help effective analysis of cumulative effects of projects

Helps in the consideration of long term or delayed impacts

Problems Areas in SEA

Long timelines and large geographical areas

Strategic Environmental Assessment

Ensuring use of relevant baseline information

Limited information

Choice of right alternatives

Identification and assessment of cumulative effects

Difficulty in understanding concepts and methods by stakeholders

Use of SEA as a creative process in strategic decision making.

In conclusion,strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a process to ensure that significant environmental effects arising from policies,plansand programmesare identified, assessed, mitigated, communicated to decision- makers, monitored and that opportunities for public involvement are provided.

Strategic Environmental Assessment is a generic tool and has become important instrument to assist in achieving sustainable development in public planning and policy making in the developed nations.

The SEA process informs planners, decision makers and affected public on the sustainability of strategic decisions. It also facilitates the search for the best alternative and ensures a democratic decision making process. This in turn leads to more cost and time effective Environmental Impact Analysis at the project level.

SEA is the formalised, systematic and comprehensive process of evaluating the environmental impacts of a policy, plan, programme and its alternatives, including the preparation of a written report on the findings of that evaluation, and using the findings in publicly accountable decision making.

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Although SEA evolved from EIA, SEA procedures may be EIA based- structured and rigorous using specific steps or Non EIA based- less structured and less rigorous used for decision making and higher policy making.

While EIA deals with detailed decisions to do with location, design, construction, operation of a project, SEA deals with wide development options e.g. fiscal, regulatory, organizational and spatial. The processes of SEA include screening, scoping, assessment, report production, monitoring and consultation.

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: TheAgripedia.com - For Scientific Research Based Agricultural Knowledge and Innovations. Agric4profits.com - For Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Natural Health Benefits. WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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