Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) can be defined as the formalised, systematic and comprehensive process of evaluating the environmental impacts of a strategic action and its alternatives, including the preparation of written reports on the findings of that evaluation, and the use of the findings in publicly accountable decision making. The term strategic does not relate to a specific geographic scale nor does it imply a degree of superficiality in the assessment activities. The ‘strategic action’ will normally relate to:

Policies: Guidance drawn up by Government with a defined strategy.

Plans: A set of co-ordinated and timed actions for the implementation of a policy in a particular sector or area.

Programmes: A set of actions in a particular sector or area.