Strategic Environmental Assessment

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a system of including environmental considerations into certain plans and programmes at an early stage of the programme or plan development.

European SEA Directive

The European SEA Directive (2001/42/EC) requires that all member states of the European Union should have ratified the Directive into their own country's law by 21 July 2004, and this was done in Northern Ireland through The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004 legislation.

The Directive defines 'environmental assessment' (Article 2(b)) as a procedure comprising:

  • preparing an Environmental Report on the likely significant effects of the draft plan or programme
  • carrying out consultation on the draft plan or programme
  • taking into account the Environmental Report and the results of consultation in decision making
  • providing information when the plan or programme is adopted and showing how the results of the environmental assessment have been taken into account

Regulation 4 designated the Department of Environment (DOE) as the Consultation Body for the SEA process in Northern Ireland and Responsible Authorities should send their plans and programmes for consultation to our SEA Coordination Unit.

The aim of the Directive is to give high level protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of specified plans and programmes to promote sustainable development.

Eleven sectors i.e. agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, transport, waste management, water management, telecommunications, tourism and town and country planning or land use, are designated where Responsible Authorities must subject specific plans and programmes to an environmental assessment. This assessment means the preparation of an environmental report, the carrying out of consultations and the taking into account of these consultations in decision making that must then be reported on publicly. Monitoring of the significant environmental effects of the carrying out of plans or programmes must be given.

The Consultation Body must (by reason of their specific environmental responsibilities) be consulted by Responsible Authorities (plan/programme makers).

SEA information on this website

  • Protected Areas: Areas of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Nature Reserves, Marine Nature Reserves, Ramsar Sites, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Site, Countryside Parks and Centres - Access to the Countryside, Landscape Character Areas, and Protected Landscapes
  • Biodiversity: includes Northern Ireland Biodiversity, Habitats and Species
  • Earth Science: includes Geology of Northern Ireland , Earth Science Conservation Review, Areas of Interest
  • Digital Data: includes access to digital datasets.
  • Research: includes Research Projects
  • Grant Aid: includes Grant Aid Projects

Contact Details

For further information contact the SEA Team.

Related to Strategic Environmental Assessment

Access to information

How to request information from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs including Freedom of Information (FOI), Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) and the use of our Publication Scheme.

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