Environmental assessment is a systematic process that seeks to predict, analyse and interpret the likely environmental impacts or implications of a proposed plan, programme or project.
Essentially one can distinguish between two levels of environmental assessment:
- Assessment of a plan or programme; and
- Assessment of individual development projects.
Being above-project level, plans and programmes are primarily assessed using the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process whereas a lower-level, more project-targeted assessment is used as an integral part of the Planning consultation process with the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) on proposals for development consent.
The ERA is the competent authority responsible for the environmental assessment of projects, whilst the SEA Focal Point within MECP is the competent authority responsible for Strategic Environmental Assessment of plans and programmes.