C7.4 Use of SEA continued…


The first stage of the SEA is a screening process that will determine whether an SEA is required. The Directive lists the criteria for determining the likely significance of effects. This includes the characteristics of the plans and programmes, and the areas likely to be affected.

The characteristics of plans and programmes, considering:

  • The degree to which the plan or programme sets a framework for projects.
  • Activities, either with regard to the location, nature, size and operating conditions or by allocating resources.
  • The degree to which the plan or programme influences other plans and programmes.
  • The relevance of the plan or programme for the integration of environmental considerations in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development.
  • Environmental problems relevant to the plan or programme.
  • The relevance of the plan or programme for the implementation of Community.
  • Legislation on the environment (e.g. plans and programmes linked to waste-management or water protection).


The characteristics of the effects and of the area likely to be affected, considering:

  • The probability, duration, frequency and reversibility of the effects.
  • The cumulative nature of the effects.
  • The transboundary nature of the effects.
  • The risks to human health or the environment (e.g. due to accidents).
  • The magnitude and spatial extent of the effects (geographical area and size of the population likely to be affected).
  • The value and vulnerability of the area likely to be affected due to special natural characteristics or cultural heritage, exceeded environmental quality standards or limit values and intensive land-use.
  • The effects on areas or landscapes which have a recognised national, Community or international protection status.


The publication “A Practical Guide to the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive” provides an indicative list of plans and programmes subject to the SEA Directive, which is provided below. This is not a definitive list due to the number of plans and programmes in existence and the varying extent to which the Directive’s criteria apply. C7.4 SEA Practical Guide 2005