A Practical Guide to the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive has now been published. The Guide provides information on how to comply with the European Directive 2001/42/EC "on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment" (the Strategic Environmental Assessment or SEA Directive). It is intended to apply to all plans and programmes in the UK which fall within the scope of the Directive, including plans in the housing, transport and waste sectors, and has been developed jointly by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland.

Planning Authorities should note that Sustainability Appraisal, incorporating the requirements of the SEA Directive, is now mandatory for Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Documents in England, and for Local Development Plans in Wales. The SEA Practical Guide is provided to Planning Authorities and others concerned for information only at this point - separate guidance on Sustainability Appraisal will be published later this year by ODPM and the Welsh Assembly Government respectively, and should be the main reference document for such authorities, once released. In the meantime, the Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks Consultation Paper (ODPM September 2004) and the related Interim Advice Note on Frequently Asked Questions (ODPM April 2005) may be useful.

Further copies of the SEA Practical Guide are available from the ODPM Publications Centre (T: 0870 1226 236, E: odpm@twoten.press.net), or online at: http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_planning/documents/page/odpm_plan_041102.pdf