STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT IN FINLAND: AN EVALUATION OF THE SEA ACT APPLICATION
Experiences from the Finnish Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Act were studied by surveying 35 SEA processes. Integration of plan or programme preparation and assessment, organisation of assessment, public participation and consultation, treatment of alternatives, scoping, impact assessment methods, effectiveness, environmental reporting, follow-up, effects on plan or programme preparation, assessment costs and consistency of the assessment were examined and evaluated. The results suggest that SEA is not yet used properly in decision-making. Several shortcomings characterised assessment practices in public participation, establishment and comparison of alternatives, definition of environmental problems, recognition of significant impacts and readiness to use SEA as a planning tool to integrate environmental considerations into the planning. In consequence, the assessments had only minor effects on the adopted plans and programmes. The most critical challenges in Finnish SEA practise are focusing on the most significant environmental issues and strengthening the links between planning, participation and decision-making.
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