Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is widely used in transport policy development and planning in Europe and North America. It is recognised as a valuable means of analysing and addressing the potential environmental and social impacts of transport policies and plans.
In focusing attention on the environment, SEA also serves to highlight the importance of environmental sustainability in transport planning.
To date, experience of SEA in New Zealand has been limited. However, recent changes to New Zealand's transport policy and legislative framework provide the opportunity to develop a more systematic approach to SEA.
The introduction of the New Zealand Transport Strategy and the Land Tranport Mangement Act 2003 has enhanced significantly recognition of the environmental and social impacts associated with tranport.
Importantly, the provisions of the act also incorporate a number of elements of effective SEA. These include the act's sustainability focus, its requirements for early and full consideration of alternatives and for early and full opportunities for public participation in land transport planning.
The use of SEA approaches in the developmetn of transport strategies and programmes could provide a valuable means of delivering on these obligations.
Keywords: environment, assessment, strategic, impact, transport, policy, planning, New Zealand