SEA Legislation

SEA Directive

The SEA Directive - Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment - requires that an environmental assessment is carried out of certain plans and programmes which are likely to have significant effects on the environment. The objective of the SEA Directive is to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development.

Eleven sectors are specified in the SEA Directive and Competent Authorities (Plan/Programme makers) must subject specific Plans and Programmes within these sectors to an environmental assessment where they are likely to have significant effects on the environment. The eleven sectors are: Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Energy, Industry, Transport, Waste management, Water management, Telecommunications, Tourism, Town and Country Planning or Landuse. (See SEA Sectors for further information).

National Legislation

In Ireland, the SEA Directive has been transposed into national legislation through the following regulations:

  • S.I. No. 435 of 2004 (European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations 2004, as amended by S.I. No. 200 of 2011 (European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) (Amendment) Regulations 2011)

  • S.I. No. 436 of 2004 (Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) Regulations 2004, as amended by S.I. No. 201 of 2011 (Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2011).

The 2011 amending SEA Regulations reduced in the mandatory SEA population threshold for Local Area Plans from 10,000 to 5,000 persons. Local Area Plans covering an area greater than 50 sq km also now require mandatory SEA. Below these thresholds, Local Area Plans are required to be screened for SEA. 

Circular PSSP6/2011 issued by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to all planning authorities in 2011 clarifies the requirements for SEA in relation to land-use plans and the statutory bodies to be consulted.