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Doctoral thesis, 2009

Implementering av miljöbedömningar i Sverige

Åkerskog, Ann


The European Union (EU) Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment (hereafter called the SEA-directive) that came into effect on 21 July in 2001 has started a policy implementation process in the 27 member states. In Sweden the spatial planning in municipalities and their comprehensive planning activities will be a major arena for implementing the SEA directive. The aim of the thesis is to investigate the planning practice emanating from the implementation of the SEA-directive into Swedish municipal planning. The aim is also to shed light on SEA as a steering tool for change. The results from the discourse analysis of the policy expectations of the SEA implementation as expressed in the preparatory works to the law picture a national SEA discourse that wants to above all promote efficiency in the municipal comprehensive planning processes. The message from the discourse is however contradictory. On the one hand a no change picture is outlined on the other hand is outlined major benefits for planning. In relation to sustainable development the role of SEA is down sized. Another study shows how the implementing officers at the local authorities perceive the coming change when SEA is introduced into Swedish municipal comprehensive planning. They foresee difficulties with financing the extra work, new personnel and education, with a greater need for inter-and intra organisational communication, difficulties with political climate and economic environment, as complications with tiering, since the Swedish planning system is not particularly tiered at present. The implementers also have difficulties in understanding the purpose of SEA and how to tackle contradicting objectives, such as more consultations and faster planning processes. The above brief description leads to questions relating to what kind of implementation that will be the results of this situation? In 2007 twelve municipalities, out of a total of 290 had made their first attempts to implement the SEA directive as part of municipal comprehensive plans (MCP). First results or policy outcomes can thus be explored. The main focus of this study is the planning documents, including the environmental report (ER), as they represent the written part of the planning process and the results of the local SEA practice. The empirical focus of the main empirical study are the contents of the SEAs in 24 plans made before the introduction of the SEA directive and the contents of the first 12 municipal comprehensive plans that have implemented the Swedish SEA legislation based on the SEA directive. The result is a change in perspective towards more specific environmental issues in the later plans as compared to the ones made before the demands of SEA. The transparency of consultation has increased and consultations with the County Administrative Board have been held by many of municipalities. By taking a policy implementation perspective, the importance of context is made obvious, for the role that SEA implementation can take and what space for action the implementers have in developing their SEA-practice. The discourse perspective helped to “uncover” and display the character of the governments SEA discourse and thus also to, in more detail, outline the discursive governmental input to change of planning and SEA practice in the municipalities.


environmental impact assessment; regional planning; local government; environmental policies; sustainability; decision making; environmental legislation; european union; sweden

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2009, number: 2009:2
ISBN: 9789186195496
Publisher: Dept. of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Åkerskog, Ann
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

URI (permanent link to this page)