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Environmental Management Act (No. 3 of 2000)

This act aims to promote and encourage among all persons a better understanding and appreciation of the environment, encourage the integration of environmental concerns into private and public decisions and ensure the establishment of an integrated environmental management system in Trinidad and Tobago. It also creates the Environmental Management Authority and the Environmental Commission (Superior Court in environmental matters).

Right to access information (Sections 17(2) and (4))

The Authority may make the information relating to the environment it has compiled available to any person upon receipt of a written request and payment of the prescribed fee. It shall provide a written explanation of any refusal to make information available when requested by a person.

Active transparency (Section 17(1))

The Authority shall compile information relating to the environment.

Participation in environmental matters (Sections 16(2), 28 and 29)

In performing its functions, the Authority shall facilitate co-operation among persons and manage the environment in a manner which fosters participation and promotes consensus.

Where a provision of this Act specifically requires compliance with this section, the Authority shall (a) publish a notice of the proposed action in the Gazette and at least one daily newspaper of general circulation (i) advising of the matter being submitted for public comment, including a general description of the matter under consideration; (ii) identifying the location or locations where the administrative record is being maintained;
(iii) stating the length of the public comment period; and (iv) advising where the comments are to be sent; (b) establish and maintain an administrative record regarding the proposed action and make such administrative record available to the public at one or more locations. 

The Authority shall receive written comments for not less than thirty days from the date of notice in the Gazette and, if the Authority determines there is sufficient public interest, it may hold a public hearing for discussing the proposed action and receiving verbal comments.

The Authority shall keep available at the public locations, for not less than forty-five days after publication of notice of the final action in the Gazette, the administrative record, together with copies of documents constituting the final action, a response to the public comments and an identification of the basis for the final action.

Participation in activities and projects (Section 35)

Any application which requires the preparation of an environment impact assessment shall be submitted for public comment before any Certificate is issued by the Authority. After considering all relevant matters, including the comments or representations made during the public comment period, the Authority may issue a Certificate subject to such terms and conditions as it thinks fit, including the requirement to undertake appropriate mitigation measures.

Participation in plans, programmes and policies (Section 18 c)

National Environmental Policy: The Board shall prepare and submit to the Minister recommendation for a comprehensive National Environmental Policy that includes a programme for promoting the Policy and seeking an effective commitment from all groups and citizens in the society to achieve the stated objectives in the Policy. After considering the recommendations and report developed by the Board, the Minister shall cause a draft of the Policy to be submitted for public comment. After considering the public comments received on the draft Policy, the Board shall submit a revised draft Policy to the Minister for approval.

Participation in laws and regulations (Section 27)

In the course of developing Rules, the Minister shall (a) submit draft Rules for public comment; (b) consider the public comments received and revise the Rules as he thinks fit; (c) cause the Rules to be published in the Gazette and laid thereafter in Parliament.

Right to appeal (Section 30)

Participation: Where the appeal of an action submitted for public comment is provided for under this Act, the action may be appealed to the Commission by any interested person on the ground that the Authority failed to comply with the requirement for public participation. For these purposes, “interested person” means any person who submitted a written comment on the proposed action during the public comment period.

Legal standing (Section 69)

Any private party may institute a civil action in the Environmental Commission against any other person for a claimed violation of any of the specified environmental requirements. 

For purposes of this section, any individual or group of individuals expressing a general interest in the environment or a specific concern with respect to the claimed violation shall be deemed to have standing to bring a direct private party action. 

Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (Sections 16(2) and 83(4))

In performing its functions, the Environmental Management Authority shall facilitate co-operation 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 mechanism for alternative dispute resolution.

The Environmental Commission shall encourage and promote alternative dispute resolution, being any mechanism for resolving disputes other than by way of litigation.

Environmental education (Section 16)

The Environmental Management Authority shall promote educational and public awareness programmes on the environment.