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Strategic Environmental Assessment

Strategic Environmental Assessment

In Australasia

Edited by Simon Marsden and Stephen Dovers


Strategic Environmental Assessment in Australasia provides an authoritative, up-to-date report on the state of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in Australia and New Zealand, at a time of gathering momentum for recognition of SEA as a necessary and legitimate part of natural resources management.

SEA is the application of environmental assessment to policies, plans and programs. It seeks to address, as early as possible, and on a par with social and economic impacts, what environmental impacts may occur, and what measures should be taken to avoid or ameliorate these impacts.

In Australia and New Zealand, SEA remains the poor relation to project related environmental impact assessment (EIA) with the result that project related EIA still commonly takes place in a vacuum of strategic and cumulative environmental assessment.

This book examines:

  • What SEA is, and how it relates to other tools
  • The need for SEA, and how it can influence decision-making
  • How SEA works, and the principles on which it is based, the different approaches that must be taken, and the methods that may be deployed
  • Procedural requirements within countries, and internationally

Strategic Environmental Assessment in Australasia contains theoretical and practical perspectives, and complements works focussing on North American and European experiences.

The examples show:

  • missed opportunities, as well as opportunities made and grasped
  • the effects of a lack of formal legal recognition or specification of SEA
  • the circumstances, such as longstanding conflict between interest groups, that have forced governments to an integrated and strategic rather than an 'ad hoc' response.

Editors Simon Marsden and Steve Dovers consider whether SEA will play a more meaningful role in resource and environmental management, what that role should be and how that might be achieved.

This book will be useful to practitioners from many disciplines, including law, land use planning, geography, engineering and the social sciences.


Preface - Gerry Bates - Environmental Law Consultant

Part 1 - SEA and Sustainability

Strategic environmental assessment: an international overview
Simon Marsden, Environment Agency, UK
Too deep a SEA? Strategic environmental assessment in the era of sustainability
Stephen Dovers, Australian National University, Canberra ACT

Part 2 - Legal Frameworks

Strategic environmental assessment and fisheries management in Australia: how effective is the Commonwealth legal framework?
Simon Marsden, Environment Agency, UK
Strategic environmental assessment: legislative developments in Western Australia
Jim Malcolm, Department of Environment, Water and Catchment Protection, Western Australia

Part 3 - SEA of Policies and Plans

Applying SEA to policy-making: the policy cycle model and the Queensland Policy Handbook
Lex Brown and Tracey Nitz, Griffith University, Queensland
Requirements of European tiered planning systems: SEA approaches and tools of general application
Thomas Fischer, Department of Civic Design, University of Liverpool

Part 4 - Links with Other Environmental Management Instruments

Linkages between project-based EIA and the use of 'ad hoc' SEA for Australian coastal development
Nick Harvey, University of Adelaide, South Australia
The Oceanport integrated assessment experience: what role for SEA in Tasmania?
John Hayes, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Tasmania

Part 5 - Applications and Perspectives

The Australian Regional Forest Agreement process: a case study in strategic natural resource assessment
John Ashe, Environmental Consultant, Canberra ACT
Strategic environmental assessment: a business perspective
Steven Münchenberg, Business Council of Australia, Victoria
All at SEA? Strateguc environmental assessment in New Zealand
Jennifer Dixon, University of Auckland
Conclusions: prospects for SEA
Simon Marsden and Stephen Dovers


"An authoritative, up-to-date report … at a time of gathering momentum for recognition of SEA as a necessary and legitimate part of natural resource management."

Enviroinfo, 2002

An excellent introduction to SEA and although Australasia provides the context, the issues it raises and the messages to emerge from it are widely applicable. It is logically presented and brings together a diverse range of current expert opinion and practice. It provides an excellent starting point for those new to the subject and a useful reference for those already familiar with SEA.

Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, Vol 5(1), March 2003

[T]hose with an interest in the environmental assessment process will find something new and interesting in this compilation, including food for thought and encouragement to pursue SEA further. My own conclusions, after reading this book, are not optimistic. From the case studies presented it seems that governments … are extermely reluctant to subject their own policies to environmental scrutiny. … The book’s most frightening message, though hardly surprising, is that Australia’s current commonwealth government really has no interest in sustainability …

Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, Vol 10(1), March 2003


Published July 2002
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862874336
Australian RRP $66.00
International Price $60.50
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