The Environmental Protection Act and Stakeholder Engagement
For a number of years, the EPA has been engaging developers in conducting sector and public scoping meetings at the Agency’s discretion, as an integral part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.
Part II of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05; Laws of Guyana, under “Establishment and Functions of the Agency” states the functions of the Agency are to:
(b)To promote the participation of members of the public in the process of integrating environmental concerns in planning for development on a sustainable basis; and
(j) To promote and encourage a better understanding and appreciation of the natural environment and its role in social and economic development.
Stakeholder consultation and the EIA process
Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, Laws of Guyana, stipulated the requirements of an Environmental Impact Assessment. According to the Act Part IV;
(2) Where it is not clear whether the project will significantly affect the environment, the Agency shall within a reasonable time publish in at least one daily newspaper a decision for the reasons as to whether the project is exempted from an EIA or requires an EIA.
(6) Before an EIA is begun, the Agency shall at the developer’s cost publish in at least one daily newspaper notice of the project and make available to the public the project summary.
(7) Members of the public have 28 days from the date of publication referred in (6) to take written submissions to the Agency, setting out those questions and matters which they require to be answered or considered in the EIA.
(8) The Agency shall after consultation with the person chosen to carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment, set the terms and scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment taking into account submission made under Section (7).
What is the responsibility of the developer and EIA consultant?
Section IV of the EPA Act further states;
During the course of the EIA, the developer and the person carrying out the EIA shall:
(a) Consultant with members of the public, interested bodies and organisations.
(b) Provide to members of the public on request and at no more than the reasonable cost of photocopying, copies of the information obtained for the purpose of the EIA.
(10) The developer and person carrying put the EIA shall submit an Environmental Impact Statement to the Agency for evaluation and recommendations and publish a notice in at least one daily newspaper stating the documents have been submitted to the Agency and the public has 60 days from the date of publication of the notice to make submissions to the Agency as considered appropriate.
EPA’s procedure for stakeholder engagement for EIA projects?
The stakeholder engagement process is intended to complement existing policies and requirements and is designed to help developers plan and implement stakeholder engagement and public consultations in a more effective and consistent way.
1. The Agency publishes at the developer’s cost in at least one newspaper, that an EIA is required for the project. 4. During this interactive process, the developer presents a concise description of the project and the consultant, the proposed EIA approach for the project.
2. The Agency would at its discretion recommend to the Developer, the number and most appropriate locations for scoping meetings. To facilitate public participation the Project summary and any other relevant documents are made accessible to the public at strategic locations.
5. The goal of scoping meetings is to identify the potential impacts from the project and alternatives to be considered. It also provides the opportunity for members of the public to influence the Terms and Scope for what the EIA study should cover.
3. Scoping meetings are usually conducted within 28 days Public Notice period with key sectors relative to the project, as well as communities in close proximity to the project site. However, due to challenges such as accessibility, scoping meetings may be conducted outside the 28 days Public Notice period. 6. When the draft EIA report is submitted to the EPA it goes on 60 days Public Notice. The report again is made accessible to the public online and at strategic locations. Here again the Agency works with the developer to conduct disclosure meetings on the key findings of the EIA. Members of the public again have the opportunity to say whether the EIA was adequate in identifying the potential benefits, adverse impacts, and mitigation measures.
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