An Introduction to the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Integrated Transport Plan of Ghana Essay

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Integrated Transport Plan (ITP) is one of the main components of the Transport Sector Planning and Integration Programme (TSPIP), which is supported by the European Union.

The other components of the TSPIP are:

A transport sector integration plan that provides the strategic framework and action plans to support the process of transport integration in Ghana over the short, medium and long-term (provisionally 5, 10 and 20 years); A set of indicators enabling the sector to monitor its performance; Technical assistance to improve sector public finance management; Technical assistance to support policy implementation and planning in the sector; Capacity Building at the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Roads & Highways.

The TSPIP is expected to provide a sound planning framework for the transport sector, informing the sector’s service and investment priorities, meeting the needs stemming from economic development, regional integration and social cohesion, as defined in the national development agenda and at ECOWAS level.

On 22nd December 2008, M/s Mott MacDonald Ltd, in association with Municipal Development Collaborative Ltd, was awarded the contract to carry out the SEA of the Integrated Transport Plan. The study is being carried out under the supervision of the Ministry of Roads & Highways.

Focus of SEA of the ITP

The overall objective of the SEA of the ITP is to mainstream environmental considerations into transport sector planning. The term “environment” in relation to this SEA covers the natural, physical, socio-economic, socio-cultural and institutional environments in which decisions are made (ref. SEA of GPRS, 2004)

The specific objective of the SEA is to address the environmental issues associated with the Integrated Transport Plan.

The SEA study will deliver the following:

An assessment of the potentially significant environmental issues arising out of the proposed ITP; An assessment of the opportunities to promote/enhance environmental conditions and risks that lead to unsustainable outcomes; Recommendations for mitigating or complementary measures.

The SEA approach will involve significant stakeholder consultation throughout the process, identifying problems, issues and alternatives, as well as mitigation measures. The added benefit of this approach is that it will provide an element of capacity building among all the stakeholders involved and will contribute to inter-ministerial and inter-departmental cooperation.

In the absence of formal regulatory guidance for SEA in Ghana, this SEA is guided by current Ghana EPA practices and procedures, the EU SEA Directive, and the Transport Analysis Guidance Unit 2.11 on Strategic Environmental Assessment for Transport Plans and Programmes (December 2004), as well as OECD SEA Guidelines (2006).

Inception Phase

The Inception phase was carried out in Feburary and March 2009. The inception phase activities included reviewing data and reports in order to be able to fully understand the current situation with regard to the transport sector and any proposed future plans, and reviewing and describing the institutional, legal and regulatory framework applicable to the transport sector and the strategic environmental assessment.

The Inception Report was submitted in early March. The report highlighted changes to the approach and workplan for the SEA necessitated by the status of the progress of the preparation of the Integrated Transport Plan. The report also noted discrepancies and deviations, and proposed a way forward to enable the SEA to deliver recommendations to ensure that the overall sustainability of the TSPIP.

The SEA Process

The process of the SEA of the ITP will entail the following phases:

Scoping Analysis Environmental Strategy and Reporting

All the above will involve a series of stakeholder workshops and focus group discussions to promote buy-in and ownership by the stakeholders and provide the needed feedback to the ITP process and outputs.

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