SEA can provide an important arena for regional cooperation to address difficult issues concerning, for example, shared protected areas, waterways, transport connections and transboundary pollution. A more recent study on the first year of application of the SEA Directive in the United Kingdom,[ 5 ] which surveyed authorities that had conducted SEAs, concluded that most SEAs required approximately person days to complete roughly half for scoping and half for the environmental report.
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At the same time, the majority of respondents consulted in this study agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that 'SEA was an effective use of time and resources'. The main costs associated with the operation of an SEA system occur during the initial applications of SEA when appropriate approaches and tools are tested and developed, and when basic data sets are compiled. Subsequent SEAs tend to be less costly as they can build on previous experience and may require only standard analytical work and process management.
Indeed, respondents to the latter above-mentioned study indicated that they expected future SEAs to take considerably less time.
Technical Secretariat on Strategic Environmental Assessment
These costs can be regarded as marginal compared with the overall costs of implementation of plans and programmes. Nonetheless, a number of more general guiding principles for the application of SEA are available and may be of value. These include various statements in national guidance materials or in the literature of the field.
In addition, reference can be made to the performance criteria for a good quality SEA process developed by the International Association for Impact Assessment see Annex A1. Despite some differences, there is a measure of agreement on the basic principles of SEA and the actions that need to be taken for its effective application. These include the following:. These guiding principles should be applied in concert as a package in order to meet the aims and deliver the benefits of SEA as described above.
If applied in this way, they should assist in undertaking a good quality process that satisfies the spirit of the SEA Protocol and helps delivery of its specific requirements.
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The legal provisions, of course, must be paramount in governing SEA process design and application. In concluding, it should be noted that there are interpretations of the role and scope of SEA that extend beyond the framework of the SEA Protocol, although these are by no means universally shared. These are briefly introduced here because they are the focus of ongoing debate in the field and because of process developments underway or proposed in certain countries and international organizations.
A major and controversial issue concerns whether SEA should explicitly address the sustainability implications of plans and programmes or other strategic actions or continue to focus only on their environmental effects. With regard to the former position, there are then a number of critical questions as to how such an approach could be undertaken. For present purposes, there are two broad schools of thought on these issues and many shades of opinion in between :.
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In this way, the process can best contribute to sustainable development. This might be termed the mainstream or majority position and is probably held by many SEA administrators and practitioners.
A variant is to consider certain social aspects as well within the context of the environment. Some social aspects are already considered part of the environment, e.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
In this context, arguments have been put forward to reorient SEA in two main directions, namely toward:. Despite recent developments, sustainability assessment of plans and programmes presents a number of institutional and methodological challenges that are largely outside the scope of this Manual. However, the framework of the SEA Protocol provides a number of potential links with socio-economic assessment, recognizing these follow a similar analytical logic even though they have a different substantive focus.
The SEA Protocol is also consistent with the basic principles of integrated assessment and planning for sustainable development as outlined in the framework developed by UNEP. These are broadly outlined in Table A1. Involving stakeholders 5.
Gathering knowledge 6. Applying the precautionary principle. In recognition of knowledge gaps, the implementation of the EBA is to be seen as a long-term process of constant development. Further, it was highlighted that more Baltic wide solutions are needed to implement EBA due to the holistic or system-wide approach. A lack of examples for applying ecosystem limits, or the carrying capacity, in MSP was recognized.
But dealing with the EBA, lots of questions arise which will lead to further research and answers! Implementation of EBA calls for communication between planners and sector representatives, including environmental managers.
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When conducted properly, commencing at the early planning stages of the proposal, the SEA can identify potential negative environmental effects to be avoided or mitigated and potential environmental benefits to be enhanced, in time to inform the development of the proposal. The Cabinet Directive requires that departments and agencies prepare a public statement of environmental effects when an assessment of environmental effects has been conducted through a Detailed SEA. The purpose of the statement is to demonstrate that environmental factors have been integrated into the decision-making process.