The inability of EIA to be part of the planning process in the development of policies, plans and programs, creates the need for a higher environmental assessment tool, where environmental outcome of actions of a wide range of development strategies are investigated before distinctive projects are planned, and projects are planned in the direction of strategies which have been “environment proofed” (Steven 2010).
SCOPE OF STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is the formalized, systematic, and comprehensive process of evaluating the environmental impact of a policy, plan or programme and its alternatives, including the preparation of a written report of the findings of that evaluation (Therivel, 2010). Strategic environmental assessment is an environmental impact assessment procedure, that is applied to the development of policies, plans and programmes, and it is aimed at doing evaluation of environmental impacts at a strategic level (Mc Lauchlan et.al, 2012). The SEA process serves as a nonstop source of environmental information all through the different stages of the decision making process (Cherrill, 2012). Although policies, plans and programs are generally described as “strategic”, they are different forms of activities, and may therefore require different forms of environmental appraisal (Therivel, 2010), where;
Policy is defined as a road map with structured objectives, laid down rules, priorities and structures in the implementation of objectives (Therivel, 2010).
Plan is a set of coordinated and timed objectives for the implementation of the policy (Andrew 2012).
Program is the systematic agenda, with a specifically defined objective, that has been proposed to be achieved in implementation within a specification of activities and programs investments, in the frame work of relevant policies and plans (Therivel, 2010). Policies, plans, and programmes can be regarded as being tiered (levels) Sanchez et.al (2008). “Higher tier” or strategic decisions are known to set the context for “lower tier” or more detailed decisions. In the hierarchy, policies set the standards for plans, and plans set the standards for projects. Hence, it is the National level of policies, plans and programmes that set standards for regional and local level PPPs (Sanchez et.al, 2008). The levels of SEA are proportional to the strategic action; hence SEA for national level strategy will be in a larger scale compared to SEA process in the local level programme. An example is the SEA for carbon monoxide pollution in the national level will be broader compared to the SEA in the sectoral level (Mc Lauchlan, 2012). SEA in achieving Sustainable Development
SEA helps in the addition of environmental issues in the policy and planning process, by the means of serving as a help in the implementation of sustainable development. It carries the responsibility of considering environmental and sustainable criteria all through the planning process. An example is the recognition of appropriate or inappropriate location for development, and the appraisal of alternative strategic action (Therivel, 2010).
But it can be argued that because of the reduced use of more complex techniques such as modelling, scenario building and casual chain analysis, SEA is still in a long way in achieving sustainability (Sanchez et.al 2008).
Brutland Commissions move towards Sustainable development suggests that economic development and environmental protection can only move forward together, and SEA can be used in modifying strategic actions and in mitigating serious harmful environmental consequences (Therivel, 2010).
BASE LINE INFROMATION
Policy and institutional context is responsible for identifying the reason for the strategic action and it is responsible for proper...