China Revised Environmental Impact Assessment Law

China’s Law of Environmental Impact Assessment was firstly published in 2002 and took effect from 1 September 2003. Recently, the People’s Congress of China approved some revisions to the Law, in order to adapt it to China’s economic development and the change in government’s role. The newly revised law will come into effect from 1 September 2016. Some major revisions include: Environmental impact assessment is no longer a precondition for other approvals. The former version of the law stopped enterprises from applying for project feasibility approval and other examination and approvals unless they had completed the environmental impact assessment. Now the article is changed and enterprises can deal with the assessment and approvals at the same time. All assessment and approvals must be completed before the actual construction. The environmental impact assessment registration form no longer has to be approved by authorities. Now the competent authorities are only responsible for the approval of the environmental impact assessment report. The registration form is only required for reference. The water and soil conservation plan is no longer a precondition for the environmental assessment. Enterprises no longer need to submit the water and soil conservation plan to water affair authorities for approval before the environmental impact assessment. The pre-approval for the environmental assessment report is cancelled. Enterprises used to submit the reports to the competent authorities of their industries for pre-approval before submitting the reports to the environmental protection authorities for final approval. Now they can directly submit the reports to the environmental protection authorities. The penalty for unapproved construction is hugely raised. The penalty for constructions without environmental assessment approval was up to 200 thousand RMB in the former version of the law. Now the article is changed and enterprises could be fined by 1%-5% of the total construction value. Then for big constructions, the total penalty could be millions. It will offer a more effective deterrent for enterprises who want to carry out the construction before completing the environmental impact assessment. Overall the revisions remove a large proportion of the unnecessary red tape which hindered enterprises applying for environmental impact assessment. The new changes are in accordance with the “simplification of administration procedures” that Prime Minister Keqiang Li has been pushing since he came to power. However, the simplification of administration procedures doesn’t mean a simplification of environmental requirements. No actual requirements are lowered. The enterprises still must carry out the full environmental impact assessment and pass the examination and supervision of the competent authorities.

Chemlinked, 5 August 2016 ; ;