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Environmental Protection and Management Act (No. 11 of 2015)
This act seeks to ensure that decisions pertaining to the environment are made in an integrated manner, in collaboration with appropriate authorities, non-governmental organizations and other persons, provides for preventive and remedial measures for the control and mitigation of all forms of environmental degradation or pollution, and promotes and encourages among all persons a better understanding and appreciation of the environment. The Act also regulates the social relations with regard to collection of, and access to, environmental information and the rights and the obligations of the State, the municipalities, the juristic and natural persons in respect of environmental protection.
Right of access to information, participation and justice (Section 4)
Environmental protection shall be based on the principles of public participation in and transparency of the decision making process regarding environmental protection, public awareness regarding the state of the environment and access to justice in environmental matters.
Active transparency (Section 7)
The Environment Department shall gather, analyse, publish and disseminate environmental data and information, including but not limited to preparing State of the Environment reports and such periodic or other reports that the Government is required to produce including reports required under any multilateral environmental agreement to which Antigua and Barbuda is a party and provide advice in the field of environmental management and other related services to the Ministry and other government agencies.
National Environmental Information Management and Advisory System: The Department shall establish and maintain a National Environmental Information Management and Advisory System (EIMAS) for Antigua and Barbuda for the purpose of establishing and maintaining information resources in a centralised manner.
Natural Resources Inventory: The Natural Resource Inventory is to be presented on an information storage and retrieval system to facilitate― (a) public access; (b) consultation on resource use priorities during the environmental impact assessment process, and; (c) for other purposes.
Environment Registry: The Environment Registry shall contain all documents produced, collected or submitted to the Department with respect to― (a) the import, export, transportation, disposal and management of any hazardous substance or waste; (b) hazardous substances, permits or licences; (c) environmental impact assessments; (d) the dumping of wastes or other matter; (e) the import, export, storage or transportation of endangered species of flora and fauna as provided in Part VII; (f) the administration of permit requirements under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Convention); (g) the issuance of permits and licences under this Act or regulations made thereunder; (h) any enforcement proceeding undertaken under this Act (i) any other matter that may be prescribed by Regulations made under this Act. (3) In addition to the requirements under subsection (2), the Registry shall contain a list of― (a) qualified and accredited environmental consultants, environmental mediators, environmental laboratories; (b) current guidelines and codes of practice in environmental matters; and (c) copies of all public notices required under this Act. A person may during normal working hours of the Department, and on payment of a fee to be prescribed by regulations― (a) inspect the register; or (b) obtain from the Department a certified copy of a portion of the register. The Director shall provide a written explanation of any refusal to make information available when requested by a person under this section.
Report on the State of the Environment (Section 79)
No later than three months after the end of every calendar year, the Director shall prepare and submit to the Minister a report including (a) an assessment of the state of the environment, with particular reference to any significant events or changes occurring during the year under review; (b) a description of the activities of the Department during the year under review; and (c) a list of any other reports prepared by the Department or any other appropriate authority. (2) The Minister must cause a copy of every such annual report of the Department to be laid in Parliament and made available to the public on the payment of such fee as may be prescribed in regulations.
Pollutant Release Register (Section 26)
The Environment Department shall establish within the Environment Registry a register of sources of pollution, which shall contain data identifying the quantity, conditions or concentrations relevant to the identification of each pollutant. The Register shall be open to inspection by the public at the Department office during ordinary business hours, on payment of a fee as may be prescribed by regulation. A member of the public may obtain a copy of an entry in the register upon the payment of such fee as may be prescribed by regulation.
Participation in environmental matters (Sections 5 and 108)
The Minister shall encourage and facilitate the participation of all persons, non-governmental organizations and local communities in matters pertaining to environmental management in Antigua and Barbuda.
Where a provision of the Act specifically requires that an action be submitted for public comment and participation, the Environment Department shall (a) publish a notice of the proposed action in the Gazette and at least one daily newspaper of national circulation― (i) advising of the matter being submitted for public comment, including a general description of the matter under consideration; (ii) identifying the location where the comments are to be sent, and; (iii) stating the length of the public comment period. (b) establish and maintain a record of the proposed action and make such record available to the public at one or more locations. (2) The record required under subsection (1) (b) shall include a written description of the proposed action, the major environmental considerations involved in the matter under consideration, copies of documents or other supporting materials which the Department believes would assist the public in developing a reasonable understanding of those issues and a statement of the Department’s reasons for the proposed action. (3) The Department shall receive written comments for not less than thirty days from the date of notice in the Gazette and, if the Director determines that there is sufficient public interest, it may hold a public hearing for discussing the proposed action and receiving verbal comments.
Participation in activites and projects (Sections 30, 39 and 41)
Pollution control permit: At least fourteen days prior to making an application for a pollution control permit, the applicant shall publish in a daily newspaper of general circulation in Antigua and Barbuda a notice of intention to make such an application― (a) stating (i) the name of the applicant; (ii) the location of the premises from which the pollutant is to be released; (iii) the general nature of the process to be conducted on the premises giving rise to the pollution; (iv) the pollutant to be released; and (v) the receiving environmental medium into which the pollutant is to be released; and (b) advising members of the public of their right to make objections in writing against the application in accordance with subsection (2). When a notice has been published, any member of the public whose interests are likely to be affected by the grant of a pollution control permit may, within twenty-one days of the publication of the notice, make an objection in writing to the Department against the application, stating- (a) his or her name and address; (b) his or her interest in the matter; and (c) the nature and grounds of his or her objection to the application. In considering an application for a pollution control permit the Department shall also consider any objection made and may consult such other governmental organisations and persons as it deems necessary for assessing the merits of the application and any objection to it.
Environmental management plan for commercial or industrial facility: The Director of the Environment shall prepare an inventory of Commercial and industrial facilities existing in Antigua and Barbuda. The list of facilities shall be published electronically on the official website or via any other electronic means of the Environment Division or using the Government of Antigua and Barbuda web portal.
Code of environmental practice: Upon receipt of the notice, the Director may consult with any Ministry, Department, statutory body, or any other body or persons with regard to the Code of Environmental practice for the commercial or industrial facility, or class of facility of the applicant. The Director shall, within a reasonable time the receipt of the notice provided, convene a meeting with senior representatives from the commercial or industrial facility, or class of facility, and where appropriate may invite participation in the meeting by any Ministry, Department, statutory body, local authority, or any other person or body. The Director shall provide reasonable assistance to any commercial or industrial facility, or class of facility, in the negotiation and conclusions of an environmental management plan and the resulting code of environmental practices established as part thereof, including the undertaking of consultations with affected parties and any specified regulatory agency.
Participation in activities and projects / Biodiversity (Section 70)
The Department shall place the application for access to biological resources in the Environment Registry for a period of three months where it may be consulted by any person. The Government shall recognise and protect the rights of the local communities to collective benefit from their knowledge, innovations and practices acquired through generations (past, present and future) and to receive compensation for the conservation of biological resources in accordance with the provisions of this legislation and subsequent regulations. No such knowledge, innovations or practices shall be sold, assigned, transferred or dealt with in any manner without the prior informed consent of the local communities concerned and the Department. the Government shall take regulatory measures to establish and implement a system of collective/community rights through a process of consultation with and participation of the local communities which shall include: (a) the identification of the types of collective rights that are recognised in each case; (c) the identification and definition of the requirement and procedure necessary for the recognition of the collective rights and the title to same; (c) definition of a system of collective registration and specific rights and obligations that arise from the entitlement; (d) criteria and mechanisms for the standardisation of procedure; and (e) licenses for the exploitation and commercialisation of the protected species and varieties (6.) The Government shall identify, in consultation with local communities, technical institutions to assist them to identify and characterise their innovations.
Participation in plans, programmes and policies (Sections 19(5), 21, 46, 48 and 55)
National Environmental Policy Framework: After considering the draft Policy Framework the Minister shall cause it to be submitted for pubic comment and participation in accordance with section 108. Before amending the Policy Framework, the Department shall give notice to the public of its intention to do so by publishing a notice in a daily newspaper of general circulation and in the Gazette. Submissions on the proposed amendment may be made in writing by any person. After consideration of submissions made, the Department shall develop a draft of the proposed Policy and make it available for public review.
Watersheds: The Director shall solicit comments regarding the declaration of critical watersheds and shall publish the proposal in the Gazette and at least one daily newspaper of general circulation and broadcast media, inviting interested persons to submit comments within a specified period of time and make copies of the proposal available at the Environment Registry to anybody who may request them. The Director shall organise at least one public meeting to discuss the proposal and the Minister shall take into consideration any comments which have been received and revise the proposal as appropriate. A similar procedure of public participation is provided for the declaration of important wetlands.
Protected areas: The Minister may designate any area of Crown land as a protected area by notice published in the Gazette. Prior to the designation of any area as a protected area, the Minister shall ensure that the Department has given notice of the proposed designation in a timely way so as to ensure that any issue raised by the public may be considered before the designation is made; and considered and reported to the Minister on any submissions from any person. Submissions on the proposed designation may be made in writing by any person. Where the owner of private land or a non-Governmental organization recommends to the Department that an area may be suitable for the designation of a protected area, the Department may enter into consultations with such owner or non-governmental organisation with a view to securing the establishment of such an area as a protected area, including meetings with the landowner, persons resident on adjoining lands, other interested stakeholders, community groups, Government Departments and statutory bodies to determine the level of interest in securing the establishment of a protected area. Notice in the Gazette and at least one daily newspaper of national circulation of the proposed designation as a protected area shall be given if a written agreement is obtained.
Importation, sale of foreign organisms: Similar public participation procedures apply including giving public notice of the application at least twice in a daily newspaper of general circulation and providing information on the nature of the application, the likely impact to human health or to ecosystems and the procedure and mechanisms for submitting comments. The Minister responsible for agriculture shall decide, after reviewing the submissions made whether it is in the interests of Antigua and Barbuda to issue a permit, with or without conditions.
Participation in laws and regulations (Section 7)
The Environment Department shall (i) encourage and facilitate public participation in the development, implementation and oversight of environmental laws and policies; and (ii) develop and implement mechanisms for public comment on draft laws and regulations, consistent with the provisions of this Act.
Legal standing (Section 97)
Any person who is aggrieved by a violation of the Act may, with the leave of the court, institute proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction against any other person who he or she reasonably suspects is responsible for that violation. The court may grant leave to institute proceedings to any person or group of persons who has a specific interest in the claimed violation of the Act or any other person or group of persons who can satisfy the court that the proceedings are justifiable in the public interest. In any proceedings brought under this section, the burden of proof is on the person who institutes the proceedings.
Alternative dispute resultion mechanisms (Section 11)
In performing its functions the Environment Department shall facilitate cooperation among persons and manage the environment in a manner which fosters participation and promotes consensus, including the encouragement and use of appropriate means to avoid or expeditiously resolve disputes through mechanisms for alternative dispute resolution.
Environmental education (Section 7 and Part XV)
The Environment Department shall plan and organise training courses for persons involved in environmental management, public education campaigns and relevant information activities to create a better understanding of the need for public cooperation in the maintenance of sound environmental quality.
The Director shall develop programs for public information, education and training to promote basic environment understanding and awareness of and compliance with the provisions of the Act.