Strategic environmental assessment
ACT strategic environmental assessments
Under the ACT Planning and Development Act (2007), a strategic environmental assessment may be prepared when a major policy matter is proposed, such as a major variation to the Territory Plan.
A strategic environmental assessment assesses the environmental benefits and impacts on an area, which is an important part of any decision about an area’s suitability for future development. It can also recommend how the finding of the assessment should be considered in future planning.
A strategic environmental assessment, prepared by the Planning and Land Authority, is different from an environmental impact statement, which is prepared for individual development proposals.
The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development can request a strategic environmental assessment or the Planning and Land Authority can decide that one is needed.
Commonwealth strategic assessments
Under Commonwealth legislation, strategic assessment is included in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Strategic assessments provide a big-picture study of an area to assess how environmental, cultural and heritage values can be best protected, while allowing sustainable development.
This Act allows the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement with partners, such as territory, state or local governments, to undertake strategic assessments of the impacts of a proposed development on matters of national environmental significance, including threatened species, migratory species and important ecological communities.
Strategic assessments ensure long-term environmental protection by looking at impacts on the environment over the whole landscape before development begins, rather than at individual projects.