EXAMINING QUALITY OF ENVIRONMENTAL OBJECTIVES, TARGETS AND INDICATORS IN ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTS PREPARED FOR STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
Due to the pivotal role of environmental objectives, targets and indicators in Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess environmental impact and monitor environmental condition resulting from a proposed plan it is crucial to ensure high quality in their development. Here we present a quality assurance checklist for practitioners to ensure compliance with (i) the minimum requirements of the SEA Directive and (ii) guidelines established by the Irish government for SEA of land use development plans. Furthermore, we propose additional recommended tasks based on expertise and experience gained in carrying out SEA to ensure high quality. Some of the questions posed in the checklist include, for example, "Are the environmental indicators capable of demonstrating the likely significant environmental impact(s) of the implementation of the proposed plan or programme?", "Have limits and thresholds been established for each environmental target?" and "Is responsibility for implementing the monitoring programme clearly defined?". We applied the completed checklist to 10 environmental reports from Ireland, Wales, England, Malta and Germany and proposed a grading system for comparative purposes. The results showed varying quality among the ERs from Ireland, UK and Malta. In addition, we found that the checklist did not directly apply to the German ERs because of the different approach taken to SEA whereby environmental targets and indicators were used in a more implicit manner than elsewhere. However, as environmental objectives and the monitoring programmes were similar for all ERs we concluded that different approaches still resulted in a manageable and focused monitoring system.
Quality criteria, environmental reports, environmental objectives, targets and indicators, grading
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