THE recent increase of environmental concerns in the country is a reflection of major flaws in the Environment Act 2000.
Under the act, the director of environment automatically becomes the chairman of the environment council (sections 15-17), which is highly questionable.
The director determines the level of activity and notifies the proponent accordingly (sections 41-50).
Only level three activities require environment impact assessment, with the exception of level 2 where there is national significance.
The director decides on the environmental inception report (EIR) and makes assessment of the environmental impact statement (EIS) (sections 52-54).
The director decides on the public review and submissions (section 55).
Following this, the director makes decision on the EIS and refers it to the council, where the director, as the chairman, presides over his decisions and recommendations (sections 56-57).
The director also presides over the council’s decision and recommendation to the minister (section 58).
The minister’s approval-in-principle (section 59) is also highly questionable.
In fact, the whole process leading to the minister’s approval is simply the statements on the issues raised in the EIR.
The process of environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the issuance of environmental permit follow the minister’s approval in principle, which is the sole discretion of the director of environment (sections 60-67).
This is totally an insult to the moral principles of good governance in the country.
Interestingly, under section 68 where the proponent is dissatisfied with the director’s decision, the proponent may appeal through the director and, the council, in the absence of the director will review the director’s decision.
I call on the minister and responsible authorities like law reform commission and department of justice and attorney-general to critically look at this act and recommend for the review.
This act defeats the whole process of good governance in the country.