impact assessment (EIA). An EIA is not carried out until an environmentally relevant project enters the approval process, whereas an SEA is carried out at the planning stage because important decisions relating to the environment often have to be taken in the context of preparatory plans and programmes.

An SEA must be carried out for each important planning procedure of relevance to the environment. The key element in the SEA is the environmental report, which details and evaluates the plan or programme’s anticipated environmental impacts and viable planning alternatives. Environmental authorities and the public must also be involved. After concluding the process, the competent authority must describe how it took account of the environmental report and the comments and opinions submitted when taking its decision, and why a specific plan has been chosen after weighing it up against the other assessed alternatives.

Transboundary SEAs with German participation