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Updated to: 25 February 2015Download as PDF
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)
83 Nguyen Chi Thanh - Dong Da - Ha Noi
Tel: (84-4) 8 343 911
FAX: (84-4) 8 359 211
History of ESIA
EIA in Vietnam has been very dynamic. In December 1993, the National Assembly passed the National Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) that specified EIA. It went into force in January 1994. The Government Decree No. 175 of 1994 provided guidance for the implementation of the Law and additional regulatory documents made provisions for EIA. After ten years of implementation of the law and confronting rapid progress of the country's socio-economic development, the LEP required strengthening on several aspects including on the provisions for public participation. In December 2005, the Law on Environmental Protection was promulgated with a new scope of stipulation, structure and regulations for EIA. A year later, a Decree No. 80/2006/ND-CP on implementing some articles of the LEP was issued. This Decree has been amended by Decree No. 21/2008/ND-CP of February 2008 and by Decree No. 29/2011/ND-CP.
Overview ESIA procedure
The EIA process in Vietnam consists of the following stages: Screening, Assessment, Review, Approval and Monitoring.
Regarding the timing of the EIA process, Article 13 of the SEA and EIA Decree (2011) stipulates that the EIA report shall be made concurrently with the formulation of the feasibility study report of the investment project. The feasibility study is then also part of the dossier of request for the appraisal and approval of the EIA report.
Screening decision is made by Appraisal Council or Appraisal Services Organisation formulated at National or Provincial level depending on the project.
Screening is done with a list provided as an appendix of the EIA Decree No. 29/2011/ND-CP. The list contains thresholds based on project feature size/capacities against which EIA requirement is determined. A preliminary EIA report is presented as part of the starting dossier for EIA licence application. This preliminary EIA report alongside a feasibility study (or investment report) of the project act to inform the screening decision authority on the level of EIA required.
Provisions for protection and conservation of sensitive areas exist. A full EIA is required for any project with likely effects on such areas.
Contents of the starting document
The starting document is a package consisting of
- a letter of request from the proponent for appraisal and approval of EIA report (a sample letter is given as annex 5 of the EIA circular No. 08 of 2006);
- seven copies of a preliminary EIA report in a stipulated format; and
- feasibility or investment report.
Proponents are required to send the assessment documents to People's committee and people council at community level. The council may request public involvement in case of a contentious issue. It is required to record complains and deliberations during public meetings and include them as part of the EIA report.
Contents of the EIA report
- Brief description of project (name, owner , location and contents);
- Description of EIA reporting process, consultation, methodts
- Assessment of natural environment of project
- Assessment of impacts
- Mitigation measures
- Commitment to implementation of environmental measures;
- Construction works and programs for managing and controlling enviornmental issues in the course of project implementation
- Cost estimation for constructions of environmental protection works;
Accreditation of consultants
Decree 29/2011/ND-CP provides specific criteria on how to select the experts that write the EIA report for example with respect to experience and education.
The project owner shall submit a dossier of request for appraisal of an environmental impact assessment report to a competent agency. An appraisal agency shall check for completeness. The appraisal agency shall then set up an appraisal council or select an appraisal service provider. No further specifications are given regarding the EIA review process.
On the basis of the appraisal agency’s notice of appraisal results of the environmental impact assessment report, the project owner shall carry out one of the following activities:
a) Making another environmental impact assessment report and submitting it to the appraisal agency for appraisal, if its environmental impact assessment report is not approved. The appraisal time limit and procedures are the same as for the first report;
b) Modifying and supplementing the environmental impact assessment report and submitting it to the appraisal agency for consideration and submission to a competent authority for issuance of an approval decision, if the environmental impact assessment report is approved on condition of modification and supplementation. The time limit for modification and supplementation of the report is not counted in the time limit for appraisal and approval of the environmental impact assessment report;
c) Sending the environmental impact assessment report to a competent agency for issuance of an approval decision under regulations, if the report is approved without modification and supplementation.
EIA reports are appraised by appraisal councils or appraisal service providers. Depending on scale and level of project, it may be the Department of EIA and Appraisal of MoNRE or other ministries/ Governmental bodies at national level or the People Committee at the local level which approve the EIA report.
The Appraisal Council or Appraisal Services Organisation is a multi-disciplinary team of representatives of management agencies directly related to environmental issues of the project, of specialists and of representatives of the public. It is not specified however if the specialists are academics or Ministry of Environment experts. The extend of impartiality is also not clear.
The appraisal agency has to check whether the dossier of request for appraisal of the EIA report is complete and other respond within 5 working days. For EIA reports that are appraised by MONRE there is a time limit of 45 working days, for the ones that are appraised by other authorities it is 30 working days.
Integration of ESIA into decision-making
EIA report approval is a requirement for, but separate from, the decision on required permits for project approval.
Once the EIA reports are approved, an approval decision is issued and the EIA reports are they are certified.
Depending on scale and level of project, it may be the Department of EIA and Appraisal-MoNRE or other ministries/ Governmental bodies at national level or the People Committee at the local level which approve the EIA report.
Decisions including the reasons thereof are communicated to the proponent in writing. The decision is made public. A report on the decision as well as the certified EIA report are sent to various institutions, depending on which leve the approval decision has been taken.
The time limit for approving an EIA is 15 working days.
An environmental control program is part of the EIA report and then serves as a basis for the development of a environmental control plan after the EIA report has been approved. The agency approving the EIA report is responsible for inspection.
Suspension of permit of operation or other penalizing measures are issued if the proponent does not comply with measures in the already approved environmental protection plan.
Public participation requirements for ESIA process stages
The new LEP (2005) and the regulations under it (Decree No.80/2006/ND-CP, Decree No. 21/2008/ ND-CP, Decree No 29/2011/ND-CP) include provisions for public consultations at two stages - in preparation phase and in review phase of the EIA report.
The consultation process during the process of EIA reporting is determined to be as follows: The people to be consulted are the People's Committee of the affected commune and representatives of the affected communities and organizations. The project owner has to send them a written request for consultation together with brief documents on the major investment items of the project, on environmental issues and on environmental protection measures. When necessary, the People's Committee may then convene the representatives of the affected communities and organizations to a meeting and notify the project owner of it. The project owner shall be part of the meeting. Its results have to be recorded in writing and signed by the present parties. Within 15 working days after receiving the written request for consultation, the People's Committe should then send a written reply to the project owner and publish it. If it does not do so, it is assumed that the people agree to the project plan. Agreeing and disagreeing opinions will be summarized in the EIA report.
Access to information
The current EIA legislation provides for disclosure of environmental information and data. The public can assess EIA reports, decisions approving EIA reports and plans for implementation of such decisions.
Final EIA reports written in Vietnamese are supposed to be made available to the public at one or more of the following places: government agency offices, health posts, schools and libraries.
Possibilities for appeal
- Appeals are made to MoNRE either at the central or to the People committee at the local level depending on the project (to be confirmed).
- Appeals can be made against decisions approving EIA report.
- The proponent, public/ NGOs and private parties may appeal.
The Law on Environmental Protection, 2005.
National detailed regulation for ESIA
Government’s Decree No. 80/2006/ND-CP of 9 August 2006.
It guides implementation, reporting and appraisal arrangements and includes a detailed list of projects that require EIA. The decree also outlines institutional responsibilities for EIA and EIA reporting requirements.
- Decree No. 21/2008/ND-CP of February 2008 amended this decree especially on articles pertaining to Environmental standards, projects that require EIA and community participation.
- Decree no. 29/2011/ND-CP amends some articles of the previous Decrees of 2006 and 2008
- Circular No. 08/2006/TT-BTNMT of September 8, 2006 guiding SEA, EIA and environmental protection commitments. It provides detailed guidance and instructions on the implementation of the LEP provisions relating to EIA. Issued by the MoNRE Minister.
- Decision No. 13/2006/QD-BTNMT of September 8, 2006 promulgating the Regulation on organization and operation of the Council for appraisal of SEA reports and the Council for appraisal of EIA reports. Issued by the MoNRE.
Exemptions from ESIA application
There are no specific provisions for exemptions. Article 14 of the 2011 EIA and SEA Decree provides for exemptions from requirements for public consultatin though.
Scope of ESIA application
All activities (public, national and foreign) as prescribed in the appendix of Decree No. 21/2008/ND-CP of 2008.
Central ESIA authority
In co-operation with MoNRE, the Ministry of Finance leads in making reports, appraising and monitoring and implementation of EIA reports for national projects. The Department of Environment Impact Assessment and Appraisal (EIA&A) – Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) is the central EIA authority for inter-sectoral and interprovincial projects.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in ESIA, and their roles
- The Vietnamese Environment Protection Agency (VEPA): This functional unit of MONRE monitors environmental measures and actions of the proponent concerning mitigation as contained in EIA reports.
- The Vietnamese Environmental Administration (VEA) was established through Decision No. 132/2008/QÐ-TTg by the Prime Minister. VEA is a subsidiary body under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) that advises and assists the Minister of MONRE in the field of environment management and that provides public services in compliance with the laws. Once of its functions is to assess and appraise EIA and SEA reports.
- Provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE): Have delegated powers to make decisions on numerous issues (including EIA) related to the use and management of local resources and environment.
- People committee or Fatherland Front Committees act as responsible authority at community level. They act as a go between for the local community and the proponents and may initiate public involvement.
- Appraisal Councils can be set up for the process of EIA appraisal.
- The Law on Environmental Protection also provides for the National Assembly to consider and make decisions on projects with major environmental impacts. A schedule of such types of projects is determined by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly.
(De)centralisation of ESIA mandates
There is vertical decentralisation. Provincial Departments of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE) have delegated powers to make decisions on EIA.
Annual no. of ESIAs
For investment projects: From 1994 till 2004:
About 27 000 EIA reports were reviewed and appraised, of which:
- at central level: more than 800 reports, and
- at provincial level: more than 26 000 reports.
- Vietnam Environmental and Sustainable Development Institute (VESDI)
- Vietnam Environment Impact Assessment Association (VAFEIA)
Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN): EIA Compendium Vietnam