Strategic Environmental Assessment: The Environmental Impact of Policies

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Introduction
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) evaluates the environmental impact of policies, plans and programs (or strategic proposals/decisions). The objective of SEA is to mainstream the environmental consideration at the earlier phase of decision making and improved governance through reducing administrative burden via avoiding project level EIA and duplication along the ministries (Fischer 2007; Therivel 2010; Fundingsland Tetlow and Hanusch 2012).
Australia has more than 30 years of expeirnce of evaluating PPPs (policies, plans and programs) under different legislative mechanisms. In May 1992 the Australian Commonwealth, all States (6) and Territories (2) and Australian Local Government Association, signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE). The signatories agreed that ‘environmental issues associated with a proposed project, program or policy will be taken into consideration in the decision making process’. Clearly, the IGAE enveloped the principle of SEA (Kelly et al. 2012). Following this after an extensive review of Environment Protection (Impact of Proposal) Act 1974, in 1999 Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act came into force. This Act formally introduced SEA in Australian legislative context. Before this SEA was informally applied to propsals nationally and regionally but no mandatory or formal bindings (Marsden 2013b). Section 146 of EPBC Act introduced the discretionary provison of SEA in all sectors excepts for fishery which has been made mandatory by Section 147 (Ashe and Marsden 2011).
Extent to which SEA became a Central Component of Decision Making
The voluntary nature of Section 146 resulted poor take-up of SEA by the proponents through producing ...

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...ective is the Commonwealth Legal Framework. In S. Dovers & S. Marsden, eds. Strategic Environmental Assessment in Australasia. Sydney, Australia: The Federation Press, pp. 47–70.
Marsden, S. (2013b). Strategic Environmental Assessment in Australian Land-Use Planning. Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 30(5), pp.422–433.
Marsden, S. and Ashe, J. (2006). Strategic Environmental Assessment Legislation in Australian States and Territories. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 13(4), pp.205–215.
Stoeglehner, G., Morrison-Saunders, A. and Early, G. (2010). Comparing Legislative Mechanisms for SEA Screening and Decision-Making: Austrian and Australian Experiences. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 12(04), pp.399–423.
Therivel, R. (2010). Strategic Environmental Assessment in Action. 2nd ed. London, UK & Washington, USA: Earthscan.
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