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Environmental Protection Act (No. 11 of 1996)
This Act provides for the management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment, the prevention or control of pollution, the assessment of the impact of economic development on the environment, the sustainable use of natural resources and other related matters in Guyana.
Right to access information (Section 4(2) and 4(3)) / Active Transparency / Report on the State of the Environment
The Agency may provide information and education to the public regarding the need for and methods of protection of the environment, improvement of the environment where altered directly or indirectly by human activity, and the benefits of sustainable use of natural resources.
It shall carry out surveys and obtain baseline information on the natural resources including ecosystems and micro eco-systems, population counts, species identification, location and condition and make such surveys, studies and information available to members of the public at their request and upon payment of the cost of photocopies; provide general information to the public on the state of the environment by regular reports produced at least annually; and maintain and make available to members of the public during normal working hours a register of all environmental impact assessments carried out, environmental authorisations granted and other information.
Active transparency (Section 36)
It shall be the duty of the Agency to maintain, open to the public, registers containing particulars of:- (a) each application for an environmental authorisation made to the Agency, including the name and address of the person making the application, and the location at which any activity is proposed to be or is undertaken pursuant to the environmental authorisation; (b) each environmental authorisation granted by the Agency, and the terms and conditions included therein; (c) each cancellation, revocation, variation or transfer of an environmental authorisation; (d) each enforcement notice; (e) each prohibition notice; (f) each incident or occurrence causing or threatening serious or material environmental harm that comes to the notice of the Agency; (g) each order; (h) prosecutions and other enforcement action under this Act; (i) any annual return; (j) information supplied.
The Agency shall ensure that information required to be recorded in the register is recorded in the register as soon as practicable, but, in any event, within sixty days, after the information becomes available to the Agency. The register must be kept available for inspection by any member of the public during ordinary office hours at the principal office of the Agency. A member of the public may obtain a copy of any part of the register subject to payment of the determined or prescribed fee, if any.
Right to participate (Section 4(1)b)
The Environmental Protection Agency shall to promote the participation of members of the public in the process of integrating environmental concerns in planning for development on a sustainable basis.
Participation in activities and projects (Section 11)
Before any environmental impact assessment is begun the Agency shall at the developer’s cost publish in at least one daily newspaper a notice of the project and make available to members of the public the project summary. Members of the public shall have twenty-eight days from the date of publication to make written submission to the Agency setting out those questions and matters which they require to be answered or considered in the environmental impact assessment. 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 any submissions made. During the course of the environmental impact assessment the developer and the person carrying out the environmental impact assessment shall:- (a) consult members of the public, interested bodies and organizations; (b) provide to members of the public on request, and at no more than the reasonable cost of photocopying, copies of information obtained for the purpose of the environmental impact assessment. The Agency shall approve or reject the project after taking into account the submissions made, the recommendations of the Environmental Assessment Board and the views expressed during the consultations. The Agency shall publish its decision and the grounds on which it is made.
The environmental impact assessment and the environmental impact statement shall be public documents and the developer and the Agency shall have such documents available for the duration of the project and five years thereafter for inspection, during normal working hours at their respective offices and shall supply on request and on payment of cost of photocopying copies of such documents.
Right to appeal (Sections 11(3), 18(2) and 48)
General: Any person who has suffered loss or damage as a result of the commission by any other person of any offence under this Act or any conduct that is contrary to this Act or the regulations may, in the High Court, sue for the recovery from the person who committed the offence or 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 High Court ordering the person engaged in the conduct: (a) to refrain from doing any act or thing that it appears to the Court causes or will cause the loss or damage; or (b) to do any act or thing that it appears to the Court prevents or will prevent the loss or damage.
Environmental Impact Assessments: Any person who may be affected by a project exempted may lodge an appeal with the Environmental Assessment Board within sixty days of the date of publication of the Agency’s decision and the Environmental Assessment Board shall within a reasonable time publish a decision confirming or setting aside the Agency’s decision. The Environmental Assessment Board shall conduct public hearings: (a) into all appeals submitted to it and (b) as may be necessary into environmental impact assessments and environmental impact statements to recommend to the Agency. Any person who is not satisfied with a decision of the Agency or the Environmental Assessment Board may appeal against that decision to the Environmental Appeals Tribunal.
Liability and proof of environmental harm (Section 4(4))
In performing its functions the Agency shall make use of the principle of "strict liability": any person who contravenes this Act or regulations shall be liable to the penalties prescribed thereof.
Facilitation of access to justice (costs, technical and legal support, publicity of decisions) (Section 54 and Third Schedule)
All appeals to the Environmental Appeals Tribunal shall be heard in public and any appellant, complainant or respondent may appear before the Tribunal in person or be represented by an attorney-at-law.
All hearings before the Environmental Assessment Board shall be in public and the parties to the proceedings shall be entitled to be heard in person or by counsel. Fourteen days’ notice of all hearings shall be given by advertisement in at least one daily newspaper.