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SEA requirements for (novel) federal plans and programs

Project information
German Federal Environmental Agency
Project Lead:

Prof. Dr. Johann Köppel
Research Associate:

M.Sc. Anke Rehhausen
Dr. Gesa Geißler
Markus Günther

Student research assistant:
Marianne Hachtmann
Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development
Research Area Landscape Change and Management
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wende
Dr. iur. Juliane Albrecht
Dr. Ralf-Uwe Syrbe
LL.M. Ina Magel

Leibniz Universität Hannover
Institute of Environmental Planning
Dr. Frank Scholles
Dipl.-Ing. Magrit Putschky

Hage + Hoppenstedt Partner
Prof. Adrian Hoppenstedt
Dipl.-Ing. Boris Stemmer


January 2014 - December 2016

Background and purpose of the research project

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was introduced into German law in 2004-2005 (Environmental Impact Assessment Act, Federal Regional Planning Act and Federal Building Code) due to the European SEA Directive (2001/42/EC). Through integrating the SEA (in German, SUP) in regulatory planning and decision processes, information about possible environmental impact and resource usage can be considered early on along with better integration of public participation. In recent years, more and more federal governmental plans and programs require an SEA, yet currently there is relatively little practical experience with the SEA at the federal level. Therefore this research project aims at developing sophisticated SEA standards and SEA methods to improve not only to the SEA-quality at the federal level, but at the same time strengthen the appropriate and timely integration of SEA into the respective planning procedures. Thus, the research project is designed to help federal agencies get prepared for SEA challenges. The experience gained with the SEA at the federal level and innovative international approaches will be analyzed and assessed. Based on results, recommendations will be developed for optimization areas as need for improvement is identified.

The research project is divided into the following main points.

Work Package 1: Inventory of federal plans and programs

The federal regulatory plans and programs requiring SEA should be described and compared in terms of characteristics such as authorities’ jurisdiction, planning subject, scale and territorial/regional/geographical scope, methods, planning and participation processes, and the application of legal principles. Special features will be highlighted.

Work Package 2: SEA for federal plans and programs

Information investigated in the previous package are further considered in detail in this work package. Here, particular emphasis is on the integration of the SEA in the planning and decision-making processes as well as plan- or program-specific features of the SEA. In a case study analysis, three performed SEAs at the federal level (e.g. in the fields of high-voltage grid expansion, Federal Transport Infrastructure Planning, and Marine Spatial Development Plan for the German Exclusive Economic Zone ) are examined in terms of procedure, methodology, assessment, and legal framework.

Work Package 3: International trends of  EIA/SEA research and practice

In this work package, current trends and discourses of international EIA / SEA research and practice are identified and analyzed to show possible necessary development impulses for Germany. Different basic understandings and coverage of the EIA and SEA are discussed, analyzing different approaches of established procedural elements of the EIA / SEA process, and identifying innovative elements. Here, a focus will be placed on impact assessment methods on a highly aggregated SEA level. Furthermore, different approaches for quality assurance are highlighted and recommendations for research and practice in Germany are formulated.

Work Package 4: Conceptual considerations

Based on work packages 1 to 3, potential deficits and improvement options of the SEA at the federal level are to be identified, in particular regard to procedural steps, methodology, impact assessment, and SEA regulations. The limits and possibilities for possible harmonization of procedures, methods and content of the SEA for federal plans and programs will be determined.

Work Package 5: Ad hoc consultations

The Federal Environment Agency should be advised ad-hoc from the contractor to ongoing SEA cases. Adherence to methodological and legal standards will be judged professionally and delivered in the form of advisory opinions.

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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M.Sc. Anke Rehhausen
+49 (0)30 - 314 27390
EB 218