Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

Strategic Environmental Assessment is a procedure that aims at the evaluation of consequences and environmental effects produced by Plans and Programs. This assessment started from the necessity that, both at a community level and a national level, in the preparation, elaboration and carrying out of plans and programs, aspects dealing with environmental impact are taken into consideration, along with social end economical, so that, where applicable, alternatives to planning can be found, with the purpose of limiting the negative effects on the environment.
The main normative sentence regulating the entire Strategic Environmental Assessment procedure is the 2001/42/EEC directive of the European Parliament and the European Council, of 27 June 2001 concerning the “assessment of the effects of specific plans and programs on the environment”. This sentence was acknowledged nationally in 2006 with the Legislative Decree no. 152 of 3 April 2006: “Norme in materia ambientale PARTE SECONDA: Procedure per la valutazione ambientale strategica (VAS), per la valutazione d’impatto ambientale (VIA) e per l’autorizzazione ambientale integrata (IPPC)” (Environmental regulations PART TWO: Procedures for Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and Integrated Pollution prevention and control).
The directive defines as main purpose of an environmental assessment the safeguard of the environment and the contribution to the integration of environmental considerations in the elaboration and adoption of plans and programs in order to promote a sustainable development”.
The interesting innovation introduced by this directive is, in fact, the moment of its application: the period of preparation of the plan or program, before its adoption or at the beginning of the relative legislative procedure. The directive also guarantees the participation of the “public” in the process of evaluation and includes the ad hoc elaboration and the development of a monitoring program, in the moment ofrealization of the plan, in order to verify and eventually correct actions or measures adopted by the plan or program.