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Environmental Protection Act (No. 22 of 1992)

This Act establishes a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for environmental protection in Belize. It creates the Department of the Environment which is entrusted with broad regulatory and enforcement authority for the prevention and control of environmental pollution, conservation and management of natural resources, and environmental impact assessment.

Right to access information (Section 4(k) and (r))

The Department of the Environment shall provide information and education to the public regarding the importance of protection and improvement of the environment. It shall also provide decision-making with the necessary information so as to achieve long-term sustainable development.

Report on the State of the Environment (Section 43)

The Minister shall, as soon as possible after the end of each year, prepare and cause to be laid before the National Assembly a report on the administration and enforcement of this Act for that year.

Pollutant register (Section 4 (i))

The Department of the Environment shall maintain a register of all wastes, discharges, emissions, deposits or other sources of emission or substances which are of danger or potential danger to the environment.

Right to participate (Section 7(2))

In carrying out any of his responsibilities, the Minister may (a) consult with any other Government department or agency, non-governmental organisation, or any person interested in the quality of the environment or the control or abatement of environmental pollution; and (b) organize conferences of representatives of industry, labour and municipal authorities and any interested persons described above.

Participation in activities and projects (Section 20)

When making an environmental impact assessment, a proposed developer shall consult with public and other interested bodies or organizations. The Department may make its own environmental impact assessment and synthesise the views of the public and interested bodies.

Right to appeal (Section 40)

Any person who has suffered loss or damage as a result of conduct that is contrary to any provision of this Act or the regulations may, in a Court of competent jurisdiction, sue for and recover from the person who engaged in the conduct an amount equal to the loss or damage proved to have been suffered by the person and an amount to compensate for the costs of any investigation in connection with the matter and of proceedings under this section. Any person who suffers or is about to suffer loss or damage as a result of conduct that is contrary to any provision of this Act or the regulations may seek an injunction from the Supreme Court.

Alternative dispute resolution measures (Section 69(1))

Where an offence under this Act or any regulations has been committed and it appears to the Chief Environmental Officer that having regard to the nature of the evidence and all other circumstances, it would be reasonable and expedient to make an out-of-court settlement, he may, after seeking legal advice and with the prior approval of the Minister, make a settlement in lieu of commencing or continuing court proceedings.