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Environmental Protection and Management Act (No. 10 of 2019)
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 (Sections 3 and 4)
This Act shall regulate the social relations with regard to the collection of, and access to, environmental information.
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.
The Department shall carry out all functions which are required for the proper discharge of its responsibilities under this Act which, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, shall include ― (s) encouraging and facilitating public participation in the development, implementation and oversight of environmental laws and policies.
Active transparency (Sections 4, 84, 86,and 87)
The Department shall carry out all functions which are required for the proper discharge of its responsibilities under this Act which, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, shall include ― (u) gathering, analysing, publishing and disseminating environmental data and information, including but not limited to preparing the 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; (v) providing advice on environmental management and other related services to the Ministry and other government agencies.
National Environmental Information Management and Advisory System (EIMAS): (1) The Department shall establish and maintain an Environmental Information Management and Advisory System (EIMAS) for the purpose of establishing and maintaining information resources in a centralised manner. (2) The information in the EIMAS System shall be kept in such manner as the Director thinks fit. (3) Every Ministry, statutory body and other agency of government shall provide such technical assistance and information pertaining to the EIMAS as may be requested Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Unit.
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 issued pursuant to this Act; (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; (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 proceedings 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 89)
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 , including an assessment of the effectiveness of coordination between the Department and other Ministries, Departments of Government agencies and statutory authorities to which environmental management functions and duties have been allocated pursuant to this Act; and; and (c) a list of any other reports prepared by the Department or any other appropriate authority pursuant to this Act. (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 prescribed.
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 source, quantity, conditions, or concentrations relevant to the identification of each pollutant. The Register shall be opened to inspection by the public, on payment of a fee, at the Department office during ordinary business hours.
Participation in environmental matters (Sections 10 and 120)
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.
The Minister shall be responsible for – (f) Encouraging and facilitating the participation of all persons, nongovernmental 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 27 and 48)
Pollution control permit: (1) At least thirty days prior to making an application for a pollution control permit under section 26, the applicant shall publish in a daily newspaper of general circulation in Antigua and Barbuda a notice of intention to make such an application. (2) The notice of intention shall – (a) state (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. (b) advise members of the public of their right to make objections in writing against the application in accordance with subsection (3). (3) When a notice of intention 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.
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 that conduct business of a nature that could significantly impact human health and the environment. The list of facilities shall be published electronically on the official website of the Department and on the official website of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.
Participation in activities and projects / Biodiversity (Section 80)
Upon receipt of the application, the Department shall (a) send a copy of the application to the Ministry of Agriculture, the Plant Protection Unit, the Forestry Department, the Fisheries Department, Veterinary Divisions, the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services, National Parks, as applicable; and (b) lodge a copy of the application in the Environment Registry established under this Act for a period of three months where it may be consulted by any person. (5) The Department shall grant permission after the signing of communicate its decision on the application within six months of the date of the application.
Participation in plans, programmes and policies (Sections 18, 61,56, and 70)
National Environmental Policy Framework: (4) After considering the draft of the National Environmental Policy Framework, the Minister shall cause it to be submitted for public comment and participation in accordance with section 120. (5) After considering the comments received under subsection (4), the Department shall submit a revised draft of the National Environmental Policy Framework to the Minster for approval.
Watersheds: (4) The Department shall solicit comments regarding any proposal under this section and for this purpose shall― (a) 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; (b) send a copy of the proposal to the Committee and the relevant Government Departments; (c) make copies of the proposal available at the Environment Registry to anybody who may request them. (5) After a period of not less than two months from publication of the proposal in accordance with this section, the Department shall organise at least one public meeting to discuss the proposal and the Minister, in consultation with the Minister with responsibility for public utilities, shall take into consideration any comments which have been received and may revise the proposal as appropriate.
Protected areas: (1) The Minister, acting on the advice of the Director and in collaboration with the appropriate authority may, by notice published in the Gazette, designate any area of Crown land as a protected area under section 55 by setting out― (a) a description of the boundaries of the protected area; and (b) a description of the category of protected area, including the nature of activities permitted or prohibited in it. (2) Prior to the designation of any area as a protected area, the Minister shall ensure that the Department has― (a) consulted with the Barbuda Council and all the relevant Government Ministries, Departments or statutory bodies; (b) 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 (c) considered and reported to the Minister on any submissions from any person. (3) The notice under subsection (2) (b) shall be published at least twice in a daily newspaper of national circulation and also in the Gazette and shall provide― (a) a description of the category of protected area that is proposed, including the nature of activities permitted or prohibited in it; (b) a description of the boundaries of the proposed protected area; (c) that submissions on the proposed designation may be made in writing by any person; (d) the closing date for submissions, which must not be earlier than thirty days after public notice; and (e) the address where submissions are to be sent.
Importation, sale of foreign organisms: (5) On receipt of an application, and upon payment of the prescribed application fee, the Minister with responsibility for agriculture, shall― (b) publish a public notice of the application on two separate occasions in a daily newspaper of general circulation in Antigua and Barbuda and provide― (i) a description of the nature of the application, including the type of foreign organism sought to be imported; (ii) a description of the likely impact to human health or to ecosystems in Antigua and Barbuda that is likely to result from the importation of the foreign organism; (iii) a description of the environment monitoring or management plans to be established; (iv) that submissions with respect to the subject-matter of the application may be made in writing by any person; (v) the closing date for submissions, which must not be earlier than thirty days after public notice; and (vi) the address where submissions are to be sent; and (c) lodge a copy of the notice referred to in paragraph (b) in the Environment Registry.
Participation in laws and regulations (Section 120)
(1) Where a provision of this Act specifically requires that an action be submitted for public comment and participation, the 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.
Legal standing (Section 106)
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 whom 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 17)
In performing its functions the Environment Department shall facilitate cooperation among persons, government agencies and any other entity, 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 (Sections 4 and 116)
The Department shall carry out all functions which are required for the proper discharge of its responsibilities under this Act which, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, shall include ―(o) planning and organising training courses for persons involved in environmental management; (p) the design and delivery of public education campaigns and relevant information activities to create a better understanding of the need for public cooperation in the sound management of the environment.
The Director shall develop programs for public information, education and training to promote basic understanding and awareness of the principles promoting sustainable environmental and natural resource management and compliance with the provisions of this Act.
Biodiversity / Indigenous Peoples (Section 76)
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda exercises sovereign rights over the genetic resources existing in the country for the benefit of present and future generations. It is the duty of the state to regulate the access to biological resources as well as related use of community knowledge and technologies. The Government also recognises the need to promote and support the traditional and indigenous technologies that are important in the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources and to complement them by modern technologies so as to ensure the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in particular Article 15 on access to genetic resources and Article 8(j) on the preservation and maintenance of knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities.
Gender (Section 95)
In the performance of its mandate under this Act, the Fund shall have the power – (f) to prepare periodic environmental, social and gender impact statements of the Fund’s operations, projects and programs.