The Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, TD, has released updated Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) guidelines which will help planners in Kildare carry out efficient and effective SEAs.
According to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the guidelines will help Kildare Co Council to integrate environmental issues into development plans and contribute to the achievement of national and international sustainable development goals, which are important in the context of national and international action against climate change and biodiversity. loss.
The ministry has now written to council and all planning authorities advising them of the updated SEA guidelines.
The European Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency have reviewed the operation of the SEA process and its guidelines, first published in 2004. The updated guidelines address some of the weaknesses of the SEA process which have been revealed by these studies.
For example, the guidelines clarify the legal obligation to monitor the effects of the implementation of a relevant plan (eg county development plan) on the environment. This aspect of SEA has been implemented with limited effectiveness in Ireland and other Member States.
SEA guidelines should be considered by regional assemblies and planning authorities when preparing regional spatial and economic strategies, county development plans and local plans. The SEA process also provides greater opportunities for the public to participate in the plan development process. It provides transparency on how certain decisions are made. The ministry said the SEA has been an important process to ensure that plans and programs developed in Kildare are in line with relevant national, regional and local environmental goals and targets.
As part of Housing for All, the government’s national housing plan to 2030, the government has committed to updating guidance on strategic environmental assessment. The aim is to improve the functioning of the planning system in order to increase the supply of new housing in a “sustainable” way.
In releasing the updated SEA guidelines, Minister Burke said they will “help to ensure that development plans and other important planning frameworks for Kildare protect both Kildare’s environment and the national environment.
“With these guidelines, the lessons learned from national and European evaluations of the SEA process are put into practice in our planning system. Given the European and international focus on actions against climate change and biodiversity loss, SEA will continue to play an important role in ensuring that Kildare’s development plans and programs are in line with the goals and targets. environmental issues, thereby contributing to a more environmentally sustainable future.