The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established on June 5, 1996 under the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, Laws of Guyana, to oversee the effective management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment.
The Act requires the Agency to take the necessary measures to ensure the prevention and control of pollution. In doing so, addressing environmental violations is integral to the work of the Agency; these usually occur in the form of environmental complaints. It is the responsibility of everyone to identify and report poor environmental practices. Therefore, complaint management is a vital aspect of environmental and human health protection.
In accordance with Part V, Section. 19 (1) (a) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, Laws of Guyana, “A person shall not undertake an activity that causes or is likely to cause pollution of the environment, unless the person takes all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent or minimise any resulting adverse effect”.
Addressing environmental complaints
The Environmental Protection Agency continues to receive a large number of complaints related to various environmental nuisances. This steady increase has placed additional pressure on the Agency’s resources to have the complaints addressed in a timely manner. In this regard, the Agency has developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for expeditiously and efficiently addressing environmental complaints. The SoP provides for the complaints to be managed by a single hub, which would enable the Agency to track the status of any complaint at any given time, and provide accurate updates.
The Agency received 571 complaints in 2019, while a total of 581 complaints was received in 2020. The majority of the complaints were related to noise, odour, and improper waste disposal; and ranged from residential agriculture to spray painting to mechanic workshops to lumberyards and furniture manufacturers.
A collaborative approach
The Agency’s work enables Guyana to contribute to global and national environmental protection and conservation. As such, the Agency’s approach to complaints management allows for the Agency to collaborate with other key organisations to eliminate complaints’ backlog and bring resolution to many of the recurrent complaint matters. Given the many challenges we face, especially in this new COVID-19 pandemic, and adhering to the restrictions have limited the Agency’s time of response.
Agencies such as the Local Government, Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, Regional Democratic Council, Guyana Forestry Commission, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Central Housing and Planning Authority have, over the years, assisted the Agency in resolving many complaint matters.
Standard Operating Procedure for complaints’ management
You, too, can assist the Agency. Members of the public can report environmental complaints utilising any of the following methods:
• Complaints 24-Hour Hotline Number: 592-225-5469; or
• E-mail: [email protected]
Please note, complaint reports MUST include:
i. Nature of the complaint;
ii. Name and address of business/entity/person causing the pollution;
iii. Name of the complainant (person making the complaint); and
iv. Contact information and address of complainant.
You can also message us on Facebook or Instagram.
Complaints can also be made at our Regional Offices in Whim, East Berbice; and in Mackenzie, Linden:
2. Whim Office – 337-2201; and
3. Linden Office – 444-2313.
Remember, your first line of action should be to make contact with your local government authority (Regional Democratic Council/Neighbourhood Democratic Council) on the matter.
Please be assured the Agency will treat all information received from the public with strictest confidence. Complainants, however, should be willing to attend court and testify, should the matter require legal action.
You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel.