Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) emerged in the mid-late 1980s as a higher-level environmental impact assessment process that aimed to address the increasing complexity of environmental issues; to promote consideration of the environment at every level of government planning and decision-making; and to provide a strategic framework to support EIA application.
SEA can be used in three main ways:
to prepare a strategic development or resource use plan for a defined land and/or ocean area;
to examine the potential environmental impacts that may arise from, or impact upon, the implementation of government policies, plans and programmes; and
to assess different classes or types of development projects, so as to produce general environmental management policies or design guidelines for the development classes/types.
All three types of SEA aim to create a context for sustainable and resilient development and to avoid or minimise cumulative impacts.This is done by:
identifying what forms of development are environmentally sound and appropriate;
pinpointing locations where developments are/are not permissible;
stipulating desired types and characteristics of developments; and
identifying broad environmental management measures that need to be followed.