A strategic environmental assessment method for agricultural policy in the UK
There are a number of significant environmental impacts that arise from agricultural practices that may be influenced by policy. A Strategic Environmental Assessment Method (SEAM) is described which aims to assess the environmental impacts of agricultural policy and aid the development of more sustainable policy formulation. The method addresses the issues of selecting appropriate performance criteria and measurements, and makes use of effect-damage functions and targets to determine the significance of potential impacts in relation to sustainability. A set of profiles is produced, describing the environmental performance of a specific policy. A confidence assessment system (CAS) is also described which provides details about the quality of the assessment and areas of uncertainty. SEAM provides information about impacts in simple format that can be easily used in decision making. It can identify environmental trade-offs and provides a holistic view that is essential when making decisions that affect the environment.