The EU Directive 2001/42/EC on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Plans and Programmes on the Environment was transposed into Irish law by Regulations SI 435 of 2004 and SI 436 of 2004 of 2004. These Regulations designate several Environmental Authorities who must be consulted by Competent Authorities drawing up plans and/or programmes.
The SEA will assist in providing a high level of environmental protection and promote sustainable development by the early integration of environmental considerations into the planned licensing rounds, and subsequent offers of Frontier Exploration Licences. It will investigate environmental risks associated with planned activities, build a baseline environmental dataset upon which effective decision making will be based, and around which operational activities can be adjusted if appropriate.
Eleven sectors are designated where competent authorities must subject specific plans and programmes to an environmental assessment. This assessment means the preparation of an environmental report, the carrying out of consultations and the taking into account of these consultations in decision making, that must then be reported on publicly. Monitoring of the significant environmental effects of the implementation of plans/programmes must be provided.
Potential Significant Impacts
Consideration should be given to potential significant impacts on:
- Water quality
- Surface water hydrology
- Fish spawning and nursery areas
- Passage of migratory fish
- Areas of natural heritage importance including geological heritage sites
- Designated marine protected areas
- Biological diversity
- Ecosystem structure and functioning
- Seabirds and marine mammals
- Fish and shellfish cultivation
- Sport and commercial fishing and angling
- Amenity and recreational areas
- Mineral and aggregate resources
- Sediment transport and coastal erosion
- Other legitimate use of the sea
The Irish Offshore Oil & Gas Strategic Environmental Assessments are commissioned by the Petroleum Affairs Division, with the concurrence of the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources. An Environmental Consultancy is contracted to undertake the appropriate research, lead the public consultation process, and produce an SEA report in compliance with the SEA Directive. Key environmental authorities are formally notified of the plan for which the SEA is being devised. Stakeholders, appropriate authorities, and the public are also informed, and feedback on the process is sought for input to the final SEA report. The progress of the SEA initiative is overseen by the Steering Group, a group of technical experts from a broad spectrum of backgrounds.