In light of the worsening environmental pollution due to projects or activities carried out by every natural or moral person, Law No. 444/2002(Environmental Protection Act) was passed and Lebanon signed several agreements to reduce the exacerbation of this pollution and live in a healthy environment.
The Environmental Protection Act No. 444/2002 provides for several procedures and studies that every natural or moral person must undertake to maintain a healthy and livable environment and the most prominent principle enshrined in this Law is the principle of preventive action, as article 4 of the Environmental Protection Act states: “Within the framework of environmental protection and natural resource management, every natural or moral person, public or private, must abide by the following principles:
B- The principle of preventive action for all damage to the environment, through the use of the best available techniques.”
This principle includes the principle of preventing all damage to the environment, the Environmental Impact Assessment, which will focus on it.
Definition of “EIA”:
The Environmental Protection Act defined the environmental impact assessment in Article II as paragraph C, which states: “Environmental impact assessment: identifying, assessing and assessing the effects of a project on the environment and identifying measures to investigate the negative effects and increase adverse effects on the environment and natural resources before giving the decision to approve or reject the project.” In this article, the word “project”, the meaning of which is defined by article 22 of this law, means the implementation of construction works or other constructions, any intervention in the natural environment, including those involving the extraction or addition of natural resources, i.e. the proposal of a program, study, investment or organization affecting an entire Lebanese region or sector of activity, any modification, in addition to expanding, rehabilitating or closing the activities referred to earlier.
As part of our treatment of the environmental impact assessment, we need to raise two important problems that actually happen:
The first problem: Does EIA need the cooperation of public administrations to issue it?
Public and private sector stakeholders should conduct preliminary environmental inspection studies or environmental impact assessments of projects that may threaten the environment because of their size, nature, impact or activities.
These public sectors that we will present in terms of their role in protecting the environment include:
*Ministry of Agriculture:
This ministry is directly linked to environmental topics through its following activities:
The Forest Service charged with protecting existing green spaces and reforestation.
The Department of Agricultural Research, which has conducted major studies on agricultural products.
*Ministry of Public Works and Transport:
The general administration of the Civil Organization is responsible for the development of the plans.
*Ministry of Culture:
The activities of the Directorate General of Antiquities are of great importance in preserving the wealth and historical heritage of the nation.
*Ministry of Industry:
Its primary environmental objective is to avoid any pollution of any kind and to respect environmental standards.
*Ministry of Tourism:
Protecting heritage and developing tourist sites in order to preserve the necessary environment for ecotourism.
Therefore, the owner of a project or activity sends the file of environmental standards that he will adopt to establish his project or activity to the municipality concerned, which in turn sends this file to the competent sectors, including the public or private, for example the Ministry of Industry. To build a factory in a particular area, this ministry will conduct a study of the initial environmental examination or environmental impact assessment of this project and finally review these studies the Ministry of Environment. Either it agrees to this project after ensuring that these criteria are appropriate to the conditions of environmental safety or rejects in the event that these conditions are not respected.
Problem 2: How effective is this assessment in the absence of recent censorship?
There is no doubt that the passage of the Environmental Protection Act No. 444/2002 constituted an important development in the field of environmental protection, safety and sustainability in Lebanon, in addition to Lebanon’s signing of some international agreements that guarantee the integrity and preservation of the environment, and the most important thing mentioned in this law is the initial environmental examination, environmental impact assessment, studies of the strategy and other matters that do not depend on the importance of those mentioned before. However, despite the commitment of entrepreneurs and activities to respect all standards for environmental conservation when basing their projects and activities through the study of environmental impact assessment by the competent public or private sector, the recent control of the owners of these projects in terms of remaining committed to these studies conducted before the start of their projects is almost non-existent due to one of the following reasons:
- Lack of human resources such as environmental police to monitor the extent to which the entrepreneur continues to respect the standards that ensure the integrity of the environment and on the approval of his project by the Ministry of Environment.
- Failure of avoidance to do the harm by the entrepreneur who neglects to comply with certain criteria to avoid any damage or pollution that may affect the environment. There is not enough cooperation between ministries.
Note: There are penalties for every person who violates it based on article 58 of the Environmental Protection Act, which states:”1- punishable by imprisonment from one month to one year and a fine of fifteen million to 200 million Lebanese pounds, or one of these penalties, both:
– Implements a project that requires the study of a preliminary environmental examination or environmental impact assessment without conducting this study in advance or subjecting it to the control of the Ministry of Environment and the ministries and relevant departments. – Implements a project that requires the study of a preliminary environmental examination or environmental impact assessment contrary to the content of the study submitted by it, which has been approved by the Ministry of Environment and the relevant ministries and departments. – Implements a project that does not require the study of a preliminary environmental examination or environmental impact assessment and does not conform to national standards. In the event of a repeat of the violation, the penalty will be doubled. “
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