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SEPA: Respect Public Environmental Interest

The public's participation in environmental impact assessment has been prescribed as an important part in the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment enacted since September 1. Zhu Xingxiang, director of the Supervision Department under the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) said that governments at various levels and relevant authorities should consult with the public during planning periods if the project could negatively affect the environment and concern the public's environmental interests.


The public's role in environmental impact assessment procedures should be brought into full play, according to Zhu. Planning authorities mustn't refuse their participation in the process using any excuses due to being afraid of negative opinions that might adversely affect contract plans.


But, that doesn't mean the state should allow public assessment in all project planning procedures but the public is encouraged to participate in its environmental impact. Planning authorities should make a clear line in their mind on this matter, he said. The planning which directly affects environmental interests of the public should require public consultation.


According to new rules, relevant departments should consult views of involved institutes, experts and the public on planning by holding discussion meetings, hearings, seminars and enquiring individual views privately or soliciting anonymous written views before the planning is submitted to upper authorities for review and approval. Zhu Xingxiang said planning authorities should report the public's opinions whether or not they are adopted into the environmental influence report. The decision should be made on the bases of democracy and science in order to truly realize the role of the public's participation.


(China.org.cn by Alex Xu, September 16, 2003)


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