Strategic Environmental Assessment
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a systematic way to evaluate the environmental effects of a proposed policy, plan or program. The information it provides helps managers, ministers and Cabinet make decisions by giving them information about:
- The potential positive and negative environmental effects of a proposal; and
- How to enhance positive environmental effects and reduce or avoid the harmful ones.
SEA allows our decision makers to contribute to Transport Canada's sustainable development objectives because it factors environmental considerations into the early stages of developing and analyzing policy, plan and program proposals.
The Government of Canada’s first Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) came into effect on October 10, 2010. The FSDS strengthens the conduct of SEAs for proposed policies, plans, and program and represents a government-wide approach and strategy for achieving sustainable development. It sets out environmental priorities in its eight goals and corresponding targets, sub-targets and implementation strategies. The four environment themes of the FSDS are:
To ensure the Government’s environmental priorities are integrated into decision-making, Transport Canada evaluates each proposed policy, plan, and program on its effects and contributions (positive or negative) to the FSDS goals and targets. This applies to all proposals assessed under the two tiers of the SEA process of Preliminary Scans and SEAs (formerly referred to as "Detailed Analysis").
A Preliminary Scan screens proposals for potential, important environmental effects, which can be either positive or negative. If important environmental effects are identified, a SEA is required.
By addressing potential environmental considerations of policy, plan, and program proposals, we are better able to:
- Make the most of good environmental effects and minimize or mitigate the harmful environmental effects of a proposal;
- Consider potential total environmental effects of proposals over time;
- Put the FSDS into action;
- Save time and money by drawing attention to potential costs for environmental clean-up and other unforeseen concerns;
- Streamline project-level environmental assessment by eliminating the need to address some issues at the project stage;
- Raise public and stakeholder confidence in our decisions; and
- Contribute to broader governmental policy commitments and obligations.
The requirement to undertake the SEA process is stated in the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (Cabinet Directive).
Strategic Environmental Assessment process at Transport Canada
The concept of SEA, and the department's approach to it, are outlined in the Transport Canada SEA Policy Statement.
In accordance with the Cabinet Directive and the SEA Policy Statement, all proposals submitted to an individual Minister or Cabinet for approval must go through the Transport Canada SEA process, which includes a Preliminary Scan and, if required, a SEA in the form of a Detailed SEA.
First, proposals must undergo a Preliminary Scan to determine if important environmental effects are likely. The Scan will also examine if the proposal is likely to lead to one or more projects that would be assessed under the CEAA or another process. If the Scan determines that there are no major environmental impacts, the SEA process is considered complete.
Secondly, if important environmental effects, either positive or negative, are likely, a Detailed SEA is to be undertaken. In this case, a Public Statement must be made at the time that the policy, plan or program is announced, outlining the results of the SEA.
Transport Canada's Public Statements
Since January 1st, 2004, four proposals requiring a Detailed SEA Analysis have been undertaken. The links to the public statements regarding the results of these detailed analyses are below:
SEA for the Regulations Amending the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations, as announced July 3, 2008: Strategic Environmental Assessment Impact Statement
SEA for the ecoTRANSPORT Strategy, as announced on March 30, 2007: Public Statement - Environmental Issues
SEA for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, as announced on October 11, 2006: Strategic Environmental Assessment: Public Statement
- SEA for the Amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, as announced on March 24, 2005
To learn more about Transport Canada’s SEA program and/or the National Environmental Management System, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Public Statement Environmental Issues, March 30, 2007|
Transportation brings clear social and economic benefits which improve our lives: we are able to travel more easily, conduct business over longer distances, and have access to goods which enhance the quality of our lives. However, the movement of people and goods causes significant environmental consequences, such as air and water pollution. These environmental impacts in turn, result in real social and economic costs, and affect the health and quality of life of Canadians.
As part of its environmental agenda, the Government of Canada has launched the >ecoTRANSPORT Strategy to protect our environment and the health of Canadians, as well as to promote economic growth. This Strategy involves a series of initiatives designed to reduce the environmental impacts of transportation and secure Canada's future prosperity and competitiveness, by making the transportation system more sustainable, both economically and environmentally. It promotes a clean and efficient transportation system that supports choice and the high quality of life that Canadians expect.
The ecoTRANSPORT Strategy, with over $100 million (M) in funding towards new initiatives in clean transportation, will be delivered through Transport Canada and Natural Resources Canada and will include:
A SEA was completed in December 2006 on the new initiatives under the ecoTRANSPORT Strategy. The SEA concluded that the overall impact of the proposed initiatives is expected to be positive. Each of the individual measures was intended to reduce the impact of the Canadian transportation system on the environment.
The overall objective of the ecoTRANSPORT Strategy is to reduce energy use and emissions. All the specific measures envisioned in the Strategy are expected to contribute to reduced energy demand and, as a result, the personal vehicle fleet as well as the freight sector will use less energy. Other measures will help to reduce the demand for personal transportation. The Strategy will lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants that contribute to smog, leading to improved health for Canadians.
In addition, the ecoMOBILITY program should influence the future use of land by incorporating environmental considerations into urban transportation decisions. For example, this program, which supports policies, programs and services to optimize how and when people travel, will encourage projects that integrate demand management measures into urban transportation land-use planning.
In conclusion, it is expected that the environmental impact of the ecoTRANSPORT Strategy will be positive. While the full impact of some of the measures (e.g. ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles) may not be felt until some time in the future, it is unlikely that there would be any negative impacts on the environment associated with this Strategy.
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