Europe

    SEA Directive

    The Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Plans And Programmes on the Environment (‘the SEA Directive’) aims to identify public plans and programmes for which environmental effects should be assessed in advance, at the strategic or planning stage that precedes the action project stage. The application of the SEA is therefore prior to the environmental impact assessment (‘EIA‘). 

    Last Updated: July 30, 2019


  • Requirements

    The SEA Directive: 

    • applies to public plans and programmes; and 
    • does not refer to policies. 

    ‘plans and programmes’ are defined under the SEA Directive as (Article 2(a)): ‘ plans and programmes, including those co-financed by the European Community, as well as any modifications to them: 

    • which are subject to preparation and/or adoption by an authority at national, regional or local level or which are prepared by an authority for adoption, through a legislative procedure by Parliament or Governmentand  
    • which are required by legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions.’ 

    The SEA Directive requires carrying out an environmental assessment for certain plans and programmes (Article 3). The European Commission issued guidance (‘the Guidance’) on the SEA Directive. The Guidance specifies that the SEA is mandatory for pans and programmes which: 

    In line with the Guidance, for other projects, Member States have to carry out a screening procedure [based on criteria set out in Annex II of the SEA Directiveto determine whether the plans and programmes are likely to have significant environmental effects. 

    The European Commission also issued guidance on the SEA process (‘the SEA Process Guidance’). The SEA Process Guidance elaborates on the steps of the SEA Process, namely: 

    Additional guidance is available on the website of the European Commission here. 

    The UK Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also issued A Practical Guide to the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, which provides guidance on how to comply with the SEA Directive. 

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