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Updated to: 16 February 2015Download as PDF
History of ESIA
The Constitution of December 1990 placed particular emphasis on environmental protection. In its article 27 it is stipulated that "Every one has a right to a healthy, pleasing and sustainable environment and the duty to protect it. The State is responsible for the protection of the environment." In 1993, an environmental action plan was adopted and in 1995, the Benin Environmental Agency was created for its implementation. Subsequently, the Agency has developed a framework for regulation on EIA and several EIA guides. The environmental law as the enabling law for EIA was issued in 1999. In 2001, the first national EIA procedures have been introduced.
Overview ESIA procedure
The EIA procedure in Benin involves a screeing process, a scoping process, the preparation of a draft EIS and its publication. Then a public hearing to discuss the EIS is held and subsequently the decision on whether a certificate of environmental comformity is issued for the project is taken. Thereafter, follow-up assessments and audits are done. A flowchart produced by ABE and ABPEE gives an overview of the different stages of the EIA process and how they relate to each other.
Important outputs of the EIA process in Benin are: Starting document for screening, ToR, EIA report, public hearing report, technical report as result of review process, environmental conformity certificate.
At the start of the EIA process, the proponent shall submit a written notice to the Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Urban Affairs requesting the issuance of a environmental compliance certificate for his project. The ABE then verifies if the project is actually subject to the EIA procedure and checks if it is subject to a full EIA or a preliminary EIA and the Ministry responsible for the environment communicates the decision to the proponent.
Decree 2001-235 specifies which acitivies are subject to EIA and which level of assessment is required. Two types of EIAs are prepared: full EIA's and preliminary EIA's. The Appendix 1 of the Decree provides lists of projects that are subject to EIA. Screening thresholds are used to define whether a full or a preliminary EIA is required. Projects whose environmental effects are limited, can easily be limited or can be avoided through the application of mitigation measures, are generally subject to a preliminary EIA. A full EIA has to be done for projects as listed in Annex 1 and for projects subjected to preliminary EIA but involve hazardous areas or environmentally sensitive areas as specified in Appendix 2.
The environmental law states in Article 89 that after the submission of the written notice for screening, the Ministry that is responsible for the environment indicates to the proponent the nature, scope and extent of the study that he must prepare. The law contains no information on whether this decision must be published.
Projects that involve environmentally sensitive areas as defined in Annex 2 of the Decree no 235 always are subject to a full EIA.
Contents of the starting document
The environmental law states that the general nature of the activity has to be described in the written notice that supports the screening phase.
According to the General guidelines, the proponent develops the ToR on the basis of general and potentially available sectoral EIA guidelines. In case of a lack of competence, the proponent may request support for doing so from the ABE. The proponent then submits the ToR to ABE for approval.
Contents of the scoping document
According to Decree 235, the initiator of the project is fully responsible for the assessment study, but he may be supported by an agency or an independent consultant. The guide states that the general impact study must be designed and prepared using a scientific method in order to identify and assess the impact of the project on the quality of the environment. Once the initiator considers the EIA report to be complete, he submits it to the minister responsible for the environment and demands a environmental conformity certificate.
Contents of the EIA report
The Article 7 of the decree no 2001-235 specifies the content of the EIA report. It should describe the expected environmental impacts of the project and shall include at least the following elements:
- a detailed description of the project, including plans, maps andfigures relevant to understanding the proposed project;
- a detailed and accurate inventory of the initial state of the site,of its natural environment and socio-economic and human development. Especially the elements and natural resources whichare likely to be affected by the project and the use of resources related to it;
- an analysis of foreseeable, direct, indirect and cumulative environmental impacts of the project;
- a comparative analysis of different project alternatives with justifications of the choices made regarding the inclusion of the environment;
- the measures proposed by the proponent to compensate, reduce and if possible eliminate the harmful impacts of the projecton the environment;
- an environmental management plan which includes information on monitoring and follow-up activities during and after the implementation of the project.The environmental management plan is thus directly included in the EIA report. Further, the report must be accompanied by a summary which was prepared separately in order to facilitate its distribution.
The section 4 of the general guidelines provide detailed guidance for writing each of these section of the EIA report and the presentation of the report in general. They additionally required the inclusion of risk management plan for technological accidents. The general guidelines can accessed here:
Accreditation of consultants
After the EIA report is submitted to the Ministry, it is made public. Thereafter, the review process of the EIA report is started. The Guidelines state that ABE conducts the review in consultation with the ministries and other relevant agencies that are involved or interested in the project.
For full EIA's, ABE puts in place ad hoc working groups for the review of each project. The review aims to produce objective arguments regarding the acceptability of the project in terms of the quality of the environment, which will highlight strengths of the project and the drawbacks related to its implementation. ABE also takes into account the report of the public hearing before finalizing its technical advice. ABE then takes a decision on whether the report is acceptable. The results of the review process are presented in a technical report which also contain recommendations for the minister regarding the decision-making process on whether the environmental conformity certifiate should be issued.
Through the publication of the draft report and the formation of specialized working groups for the review, external parties can be involved in the process.
ABE has 3 months time to review the EIA report after the file has been judged to be complete. Delays are allowed if additional information is needed for the review.
Integration of ESIA into decision-making
The environmental law states that if the EIA report is found satisfactory by the minister in charge of the environment, he will issue an environmental conformity certificate. Such a certificate is required before the project is approved by any competent authority.
The minister in charge of the environment is responsible for the decision whether an environmental conformity certificate is issued.
Included in the conditions of the environmental conformity certificate are project characteristics as modified during the EIA process, measures planed for avoiding, mitigating or reducing impacts and the Environmental Management Plan.
No information. The EIS is published, but the law 89-030 does not require that the environmental conformity certificate or conditions of the project must be published.
Article 12 of Decree 235 mentions that once the ABE has found the report to be acceptable or the available amount of time for review is passed, the Ministry has 7 days to take the decision on whether the environmental comformity certificate is issued.
The General Guidelines state that the entire project, both during the construction phases of the operation, must remain under observation in order to ensure that the decision by the minister is respected. Also, the adequacy and effectiveness of implemented mitigation measures has to be checked. The ABE oversees the implementation of the Environmental Management Plan.
The terms of the monitoring program are developed by the developer in collaboration with the ABE and other departments and agencies that are involved in the project implementation. They are included in the Environmental Management Plan that accompanies the environmental conformity certificate.
No external monitoring requirements are given in the EIA regulations or guidelines.
If the conditions of the certificate are not met, the authorization for it can be withdrawn.
Public participation requirements for ESIA process stages
The public has the possibility to participate in the EIA process during the review stage.
The public can demand a public hearing through sending an written request to the minister in charge of the environment. Once this request is accepted and a public hearing takes place, they can express their opinion verbally.
Decree 2001-190 provides guidance on the organization of public hearings. Furthermore the general guidlines provide detailed information regarding the public hearing procedures in chapter 7.
Timeline for public comments
Access to information
After it was submitted, the EIA report is available to the public. Also, the public hearing report published by the minister.
Report data will be disseminated through the media (mainly radio) and by NGOs. The reports are stored at ABE and can be viewed by any person or entity that expresses the need for it. After a public hearing was found to be necessary, an notice is gazetted through the press and a public display in the region that is affected by the project. It provides general information about the planned public hearing. A copy is also given to ABE and to the respective regional authorities.
The public hearing report published by the minister and it also is archived in the ABE and can be accessed by the public there.
Possibilities for appeal
The environmental law no. 98-030 (1999) obligates the initiators of various categories of projects and programmes to conduct an environmental assessment study.
- Links to environmental laws and regulations
- Links to Environmental Legislation on website of ABE
- Environmental Legislation on Estis
- Environmental Law 1999
- Decret EIA procedure 2001
National detailed regulation for ESIA
Decree no 2001-235 lays down the EIA procedures and Decree no 2001-190 describes the public hearing procedure in Benin.
Decree no 2001-235 requested the formulation of general and specific guidelines for the implementation of EIA which contain instructions. Hence, the following guidelines have been issued on EIA:
- General guidelines for the implementation of EIA (2001).Manual on the procedure to follow for obtaining an certificate of environmental comformity.
Several sectoral guidelines exist for EIA in Benin, e.g.:
- sectoral guidelines for dams and hydroelectric plants;
- sectoral guidelines for pipelines;sectoral guidelines for the management of protected areas and forests management;sectoral guidelines for water supply projects;
- sectoral guidelines for electrification;
- sectoral guidelines for tourist projects;decree 2003-332 on waste management and the disposal of hazardous waste.
Guidelines can be accessed on the website of ABE.
Exemptions from ESIA application
The Article 4 of Decret No 2001-235 states that the following activities are not subject to the EIA procedure:
- projects undertaken for domestic or home industry purposes, which do not affect sensitive environments or have no discharges into the environment;
- projects relating to exploration of natural resources and do not involve the building of infrastructures;
- projects which are implemented in response to a national emergency;
- projects which are implemented in response to a situation of emergency declared by the authorities responsible for public safety, projects that have to be executed without delay, projects for the protection of the environment, or for health or public safety.
Scope of ESIA application
Decree 235 prescribes that any program, plan, activity, installation or development work, which may generate pollution or environmental degradation because of its nature, is subjected to EA.
Central ESIA authority
The Benin Environmental Agency (ABE) is the central EA authority that has the mandate to implement the different stages of the EIA procedure. It reports to the Ministry of Environment and Conservation of Nature (previously the Ministry of Environment, Habitat and Town Planning). However, ABE has corporate status and is financially independent.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in ESIA, and their roles
The Ministry of Environment and Conservation of Nature (previously the Ministry of Environment, Habitat and Town Planning) provides the legal framework for environmental protection and is responsible for main decision-making during the EIA process.
Decree 2001-095 gave prevision for the creation of environmental cells in the different ministries as an interface between ABE and the project proponents. These cells aim to ensure the integration of the environmental dimensions of project, plans and programmes into the respective sectors and departments. Environmental assessment is thus a key mission of these cells.
The Ministry of Environment further establishs Ad Hoc Committee of Public Hearings. These committees aims to inform stakeholders, particularly those affected by the project. Further, the publication of reports (EIA) will be done through local NGOs and the media.
For the review of the EIA report, Ad Hoc Working Groups are formed.
(De)centralisation of ESIA mandates
The screening process is decentralized and the responsibility is allocated to the ministries responsible for the respective sector of the project.
According to Article 14 of Decree no 235, expenses related to the review of EIA reports are the responsibility of the developer. He has to pay the required amount to the ABE when he submits the draft EIA report for the review. The subsequent Article 15 provides information regarding different amount of fees that can be charged which are based on the monetary value of the project.
Annual no. of ESIAs