Belize

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EIA profile

Updated to: 27 June 2011

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Background

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Country contact

The Department of the Environment (DOE)
10/12 Ambergris Avenue
Belmopan City, Belize
Central America

Tel: (501) 822–2816/ 822–2542
Fax: (501) 822–2862

E-mail: envirodept@btl.net
Website: www.doe.gov.bz/

History of ESIA

Until the enactment of the Environmental Protection Act in 1992 (gazetted on November 28th, 1992), Belize had no comprehensive environmental protection legislation. The Environmental Protection Act (No. 22) established the Department of the Environment (DOE), and entrusted it the responsibility to monitor the implementation of the Act and subsequent regulations, as well as to take necessary action to enforce the provisions of the Act and regulations.
In April 2009, the Environmental Protection Act was amended (No. 5, gazetted on April 25th, 2009). 
In 1995, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations were enforced (Statutory Instrument-SI- No. 107), by the Minister of Tourism and the Environment (gazetted on September 30th, 1995).
Later, in March 2007, the EIA Regulations were amended (gazetted on March 24th, 2007) through the Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 24 (named EIA Amendment Regulations of 2007).

Legal framework

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Framework/Enabling law

The legal framework is the Environmental Protection Act (No. 22 of 1992), which was amended in 2009 (No. 5), and  regulated by the EIA Regulations of 1995 (SI No. 107) and the EIA Amendment Regulations of 2007 (SI No. 24).

Environmental protection Act, 1992 Lee, N., George, C. (2000), Environmental Assessment in Developing and Transitional Countries, Wiley Publishers, Chichester

 

National detailed regulation for ESIA

The EIA procedures are described in the EIA Regulations, 1995 (SI No. 107), referred to as the principal regulations, which were amended by the SI No. 24 of 2007 (EIA Amendment Regulations, 2007).

Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA

  • National Guidelines for Overwater Structures.
  • Crop Protection Product Packaging Disposal Guidelines.
  • Environmental Code of Practice for the Automotive Repair Industry.
  • Environmental Code of Practice for Automotive Spray Painting.
  • Draft Environmental Health and Sanitation Guidelines for the Fiberglass Industry.
  • Environmental Guidelines for Depots and Distribution Outlets for Liquified Petroleum Gases (Lpg).
  • Environmental Guidelines For Service Stations.

Guidelines

  • Environmental management guidelines for the tourism and infrastructure sectors were developed and translated by the EIA project for Central America, a tool for sustainable development from IUCN and CCAD.
  • Environmental checklist.
  • Specific checklists done by the EIA project for Central America, a tool for sustainable development (IUCN and CCAD) for the sectors of mining, petroleum, tourism, light industry, construction and agriculture.
  • Guideline of requirements for EIA (brochures).
  • The Guide for Developers which was actualized by the EIA project for Central America, a tool for sustainable development from IUCN and CCAD.
  • Guideline or procedures for the preparation of an EIA.

Scope of ESIA application

Section 20 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act (No. 22 of 1992) establishes that any person intending to undertake any project, programme or activity which may significantly affect the environment, shall carry out an EIA by a suitably qualified person, and submit the same to the DOE for evaluation and recommendations.
However, the scope of EIA application is amplified on its definition on the amendment of Regulation 2 from the SI No. 24 of 2007, when it declares that EIA needs to be done for developing projects, enterprises, programmes, policies or activities.

Exemptions from ESIA application

According to Regulation 9 from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007, an EIA is not required for:

  • educational and health projects (except building construction);
  • computer processing projects;
  • projects to be carried out during declared national emergency for which temporary measures have been taken by the Government.

Institutional setting

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Central ESIA authority

The Ministry of Natural Resources of Belize is the environmental authority in Belize. However, according to Section 4 (m) of the Environmental Protection Act (No. 22 of 1992), the DOE, which is an administrative entity of the Ministry of Natural Resources, is in charge of examining and evaluating and, if necessary, carrying out environmental impact assessments and risk analyses and making suitable recommendations to mitigate the harmful effects of any proposed action on the environment.
In addition, Regulation 25 (1) (from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007), establishes that the functions of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) are:

  • review all EIAs;
  • advise the DOE of the adequacy or otherwise of EIA;
  • (c) advise the DOE of circumstances where a public hearing is desirable or necessary;
  • make recommendations to the Department on ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the EIA process. 

(De)centralisation of ESIA mandates

DOE is in charge of examining and evaluating the EIA. However, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee reviews and recommends on the approval of an EIA.

Payment system

The granting of an Environmental Clearance by the DOE, depends upon, among others, the payment of an environmental monitoring fee and the posting of guarantees or performance bonds (Section 20 (7) of the Environmental Protection Act amended in 2009-No. 5 and amendment 22A (1) of the SI No. 24 of 2007).
Every developer should, before proceeding with the final design of an undertaking, notify and provide details to the DOE (Regulation 11 from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007). Therefore, the developer should submit a non refundable application fee of up to $1,000 for the notification and submission of a proposal for environmental clearance (Regulation 29 (1) from amendment SI No. 24 of 2007).
Furthermore, the developer from a Schedule 1 project should submit to the DOE a non-refundable application fee of $5,000, along with the notification and information required by Regulation 11 (Regulation 29 (2) from amendment SI No. 24 of 2007).
Finally, the developer from a Schedule II project (or where the DOE determines that a LLES is required), should submit to the DOE a non-refundable application fee of $2,500; and, in cases where the DOE determines that an EIA is necessary, the developer should submit an additional non-refundable application fee of $2,500 (Regulation 29 (3) from amendment SI No. 24 of 2007).

ESIA procedure - overview

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Screening

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Screening process

All persons, agencies, institutions (whether public or private), unless exempted, before starting a proposed project or activity, should apply to the DOE to determine whether such project requires an EIA. 
Therefore to be able to identify the EIA process, the relevant significant environmental issues should be identified and examined at an early stage before starting the project.
The EIA system in Belize establishes three categories or schedules (I, II and III), of proposed projects or activities, which may or may not require an EIA or LLES.

Schedule I require an EIA. The scope and extent of the EIA should be determined by the DOE.
DOE is the competent authority to determine whether any of the undertakings, projects or activities specified in Schedule II requires an EIA or a Limited Level Environmental Study (LLES).
Schedule III provides guidelines to be used or followed, by permitting and/or licensing agencies to determine whether a project, programme, undertaking or activity should be referred or sent to the DOE for Environmental Clearance. 

The amendment mentions that when DOE decides that neither an EIA nor a LLES is required, then the developer may proceed with the development of the project, following the granting of the environmental clearance by the DOE and the payment of an environmental monitoring fee. 

Sensitive areas

Any proposed development project, undertaking or activity within any protected area (terrestrial and marine) requires an EIA.

The Schedule III amendment of the SI No. 24 of 2007, establishes the following projects, to be referred or sent to the DOE for Environmental Clearance:

All applications for development near or in ecologically sensitive areas such as but not limited to swamps, marshes, mangrove forest, lagoons, barrier reef, flood plain etc.) (2 on the Schedule III amendment).
All applications for development within or in close proximity to any protected area (3 (a) on the Schedule III amendment).
Proposals at sites which are in close proximity to vulnerable areas (unstable soils, gully, stream banks or steep slopes more than 25 degrees) (7 on the Schedule III amendment).

Contents of the starting document

According to Regulation 5 and 11 from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007, the EIA process to be followed, is identified by presenting to the DOE, before beginning the project, a notification of the proposed activities (providing details and information as the DOE may require) with the following minimum requirements:

  • a description of the proposed activities;
  • a description of the potentially affected environment, including specific information necessary to identify and assess the environmental effect of the proposed activities;
  • a description of the practical activities, as apropriate;
  • an assessment of the likely or potential environmental impacts of the proposed activities and the alternatives, including the direct and indirect, cumulative, short-term and long-term
    effects;
  • an identification and description of measures available to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of the proposed activity or activities and assessment of those mitigative measures;
  • an indication of gaps in knowledge and uncertainty which may be encountered in compiling the required information.

Timeline Screening

The DOE receives the notification of the proposed activities with the minimum requirements, and examines, within 30 days of the receipt, the information contained there in to determine whether an EIA is required or not (Regulation 14 from the SI No. 107 of 1995).

Scoping

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Scoping process

Regulation 6 (from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007), declares that whenever the DOE determines that there is a need for an EIA (for the projects corresponding to Schedules I or II) and LLES (schedule II), the developer should proceed with the drafting of the terms of reference and submit them to DOE (amendment of Regulation 10 (1) of the SI No. 24 of 2007).
The DOE should then examine the draft terms of reference submitted, to determine whether they are adequate for the EIA. When the draft terms of reference are unsatisfactory, the DOE will direct the developer to modify the draft in such manner as the DOE deems necessary (Regulation 16 (1), (2) and (3) from the SI No. 107 of 1995).
Finally, when the terms of reference have been agreed between the developer and the DOE, and the DOE has given their approval, the developer can start the EIA and submit it to the DOE by the specified date (Regulation 17 from the SI No. 107 of 1995).
Upon receiving the EIA, the DOE examines the EIA to determine whether it complies with the previously-agreed terms of reference (Regulation 21 (1) (b) from the SI No. 107 of 1995).
Regulation 13 (2) (from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007), also establishes the possibility of the developer to request the DOE, to provide him with guidelines for the preparation of an EIA for a fee.

Contents of the scoping document

Regulation 15 (1) and (2) from the SI No. 107 of 1995, pronounces that the developer should submit, in writing, a draft terms of reference of an EIA to the DOE, which should contain the information required by the DOE.
Additionally, Regulation 17 from the SI No. 107 of 1995, mentions that when the terms of reference have been agreed between the developer and the DOE, their approval will be given in writing by the DOE.

Timeline scoping

Not specified.

Assessment

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Assessment process

Once the terms of reference approval is given by the DOE to the developer, the EIA should be carried out by a suitable qualified person. Then, the EIA or LLES has to be submitted to the DOE for evaluation and recommendations.

According to the amendment of Regulation 2 (SI No. 24 of 2007), a suitably qualified person, is who has an academic training, technical expertise, and knowledge in the field of natural sciences, and believed to be relevant to the preparation of an EIA report. 

The project should be assessed with a view to protect and improve human health and living conditions and the need to preserve the reproductive capacity of eco-systems as well as the diversity of species (Section 20 (4) of the Environmental Protection Act No. 22 of 1992).

Contents of the EIA report

Regulation 19 (from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007), enlists the content of an EIA report as follows:

  • Cover Page: A single page listing the title of the proposed project and its location; the name, address, and telephone number of a contact person, a designation of the report as draft or final;
  • Summary: A summary of the proposed project, preferably not exceeding 15 pages in length, accurately and adequately describing the contents of the EIA report. The summary should highlight the conclusions, areas of controversy and issues remaining to be resolved;
  • Table of Contents: A list and page number index of the chapters, sections and subsections in the EIA report, including a list of tables and a list of figures and appendices;
  • Policy, Legal and administrative Framework: Any policy, legal or administrative issues that may have an impact on the proposed development;
  • A description of the development proposed, comprising information about the site, the design and size and scale of the development, and its immediate surroundings;
  • A description of the environment (local and regional);
  • Significant Environmental Impacts. The data necessary to identify and assess the main effects, which the proposed development is likely to have on the environment;
  • A description of the likely significant effects, direct and indirect, on the environment of the development, explained by reference to its possible impact on: human beings; flora; fauna; soil; water; air; climate; material assets, including the cultural heritage and landscape; natural resources; the ecological balance; and any other environmental factors which need to be taken into account;
  • A presentation of all reasonable alternatives in comparative form, exploring each alternative, including the no-action alternative, and the reason why certain alternatives were recommended or eliminated. The object is to identify the least environmentally damaging alternative that satisfies the basic purpose and the need for the proposed action;
  • Environmental consequences of the project as proposed, and the alternatives, identifying any adverse effects that cannot be avoided if the action is implemented, all mitigation measures to be employed to reduce adverse effects, the relationship between short-term uses of the environment and the enhancement of long-term productivity, and any irretrievable or irreversible commitments of resources that would occur if the action were implemented as proposed;
  • A mitigation plan;
  • A monitoring plan;
  • lnter-agency and public/non-governmental organizations involvement;
  • Report on public hearings or public consultations (if any);
  • A summary in non-technical terms of the language specified above;
  • A list, accompanied by a summary of the resume, of all those persons that participated in the development of the EIA report.  

Accreditation of consultants

There is no operational accreditation system in Belize that certifies consultants to do EIAs.
The Regulation 2 (SI No. 24 of 2007) only mentions and defines a suitably qualified person, as the one who has an academic training, technical expertise obtained in the field as a result of formal and informal education and training in the field of Natural Sciences, with a background in Natural Resources Management, Environmental Studies, EIAs, or similar related fields deemed to be relevant for the preparation of an EIA report. 

Review

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Review process

According to Regulation 21 (1) (from the SI No. 107 of 1995), upon receiving the EIA, the DOE:

  • may ask for copies to be made available for inspection by interested persons;
  • shall examine the EIA or cause the same to be examined to determine whether it complies with the previously-agreed terms of reference; and
  • shall examine the EIA or cause it to be examined to determine whether:
    1. further environmental assessment is required; or
    2. any significant harmful impact is indicated.

When an EIA is deficient in any respect, the DOE, may on the recommendation of the NEAC, require the developer:

  • to conduct further work or studies;
  • to supply further information;
  • to amend the EIA accordingly; and
  • to resubmit the EIA by a later mutually agreeable date (Regulation 23 from the SI No. 107 of 1995).

Until the developer has supplied the additional information to the satisfaction of the DOE, the EIA is considered to not be completed (Regulation 22 (3) from the SI No. 107 of 1995).

Review expertise

The NEAC is in charge of helping the DOE to review all EIAs and advise the DOE, on the adequacy of an EIA (Regulation 25 (1) from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007).

Timeline Review

Not specified the timeline to supply the complete information of an EIA.

Decision making

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Integration of ESIA into decision-making

According to section 20 (7) of the Environmental Protection Act amended in 2009 (No. 5), the decision by the DOE to approve an EIA, is subject to:

  • the signing of an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP),
  • the payment of an environmental monitoring fee,
  • posting of guarantees or performance bonds, and
  • other conditions that may be reasonably required for environmental purposes.

 

DOE, with the recommendation of the NEAC, makes the decision to approve an EIA or a LLES, by granting an Environmental Clearance (amendment of Regulation 2 of the SI No. 24 of 2007).

Decision justification

With the recommendation of NEAC, and upon the signing by the developer of an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP), the payment of an environmental monitoring fee, the posting of guarantees or performance bonds, and other conditions that may be reasonably required for environmental purposes, DOE makes the decision to approve an EIA or a LLES (Section 20 (7) of the Environmental Protection Act amended in 2009, No. 5), by granting an Environmental Clearance (amendment of Regulation 2 and 22A (1) of the SI No. 24 of 2007). This approval is stipulated in the form of a letter. 

According to amendment of Regulation 2 (SI No. 24 of 2007), an ECP is a legally binding document developed by the DOE, when approval is recommended, consisting of a set of environmental conditions, guidelines, policies and restrictions which the developer or his representative, agrees to in writing to abide by as conditions for project approval.

According to amendment of Regulation 22A (2) (of the SI No. 24 of 2007), the developer cannot proceed with the project, until the developer has received the Environmental Clearance from the DOE.

The decision is not published.

Timeline decision-making

Regulation 22 (1) and (2) (from the SI No. 107 of 1995), sets up sixty days, after the completed EIA has been received, for the DOE to inform the developer of its decision. Until then the developer cannot proceed with the project.

Follow up

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Compliance monitoring

The monitoring plan is established as one of the contents of an EIA report according to Regulation 19 from the SI No. 107 of 1995.
Additionally, the granting of an Environmental Clearance by the DOE, depends upon, among others, the signing of an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) by the developer, which according to amendment of Regulation 2 (SI No. 24 of 2007), is a legally binding document that consists of a set of environmental conditions, guidelines, policies and restrictions which the developer or his representative, agrees to comply.
According to section 22 and 23A (2) of the Environmental Protection Act amended in 2009 (No. 5), every person who fails to execute its ECP or any regulation made thereunder, commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine or to imprisonment.

Non-compliance penalties

When a developer appeals against the DOE’s decision of not letting a project proceed, it does not have the effect of suspending the decision (Regulation 27D from EIA Amendment Regulation, SI No. 24 of 2007).
An offence is committed when:

  • Every person who fails to carry out an EIA or any conditions imposed by the DOE or fails to execute its ECP. In this case shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less that $50,000 and not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both fine and imprisonment (section 22 of the Environmental Protection Act amended in 2009, No. 5).
  • Every person who fails to carry out an LLES or any conditions imposed by the DOE or fails to execute its ECP. In this case shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less that $20,000 and not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both fine and imprisonment (section 23A (2) of the Environmental Protection Act amended in 2009, No. 5).
  • Any person who carries out a project without signing first an ECP or paying an environmental monitoring fee. In this case, apart from the DOE revoking the ECP, is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for six months or to both fine and imprisonment (Regulation 22A (3) of the SI No. 24 of 2007).
  • Any person who carries out a project without signing first an ECP and receiving the environmental clearance from the DOE. In this case, is liable on summary conviction to a fine not less than $5,000 and not exceeding $25,000 or to imprisonment for two years or to both fine and imprisonment (Regulation 22A (4) of the SI No. 24 of 2007).
  • Any person who supplies false and misleading information on the details and information required by the DOE (Regulation 28 (1) of the SI No. 24 of 2007).
  • Any person who contravenes the provisions of these Regulations. In this case, is liable on summary conviction to a fine not less than $5,000 and not exceeding $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both such fine and imprisonment (Regulation 28 (2) of the SI No. 24 of 2007.

Stakeholder engagement

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Public participation requirements for ESIA process stages

The Belizean EIA system regulates the obligation of the developer, during the course of an EIA, to provide an opportunity for public consultations between the developer and interested members of the public, especially within or immediately adjacent to the geographical area of the proposed undertaking.
Also, the DOE may make its own EIA and synthesize the views of the public and interested bodies. Furthermore, at any time during an EIA of a proposed undertaking, the DOE may invite written comments from interested persons concerning the environmental impact of an activity and forward the written comments to the developer who shall answer any pertinent questions raised. An EIA submitted by a developer, shall be accompanied by a copy of the published newspaper advertisement submitted to the DOE within one week of the submission of the EIA report.
The DOE, on the recommendation of the NEAC, may require a public hearing in respect of any activity obligated to submit an EIA. In order to determine if this is necessary, the DOE shall take into account the following factors:

  • the magnitude and type of the environmental impact, the amount of investment, the nature of the geographical area, and the commitment of the natural resources involved in the proposed activity;
  • the degree of interest in the proposed activity by the public, the DOE and other government agencies, as evidenced by the public participation in the proposed activity;
  • the complexity of the problem and the possibility that information presented at a public hearing or public consultation may assist the developer to comply with its responsibilities regarding the proposed activity.

The EIA Manual for Developers of Belize (made by the Environmental Impact Assessment Project executed by the UICN and CCAD), proposes to ask for a citizen participation plan and a perception survey on the terms of reference of an EIA.

There is no specification if the Environmental Clearance requires providing insight into the extent to which the public comments have had influence on the decision.

 

Costs for the public

Regulation 20 (1) (e) (from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007) only mentions that a copy of the EIA may be inspected free of charge.

Section 20 (5) of the Environmental Protection Act No. 22 of 1992 and Regulation 18 (1) from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007

Timeline for public comments

There is no set timeline for comments. However, the proponent has to announce in two widely circulated newspapers, a prescribed period during which the EIA is available to be inspected by the public. 

Regulation 20 (1) (f), (g) and (h) (from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007)

Access to information

The public consultations will be done in order to provide information, concerning the proposed undertaking, to the people whose environment may be affected; and to record the concerns of the local community regarding the environmental impact of the proposed activity.
According to Regulation 20 (1) (from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007), a person who has submitted an EIA, complying with the previously-agreed terms of reference; shall publish a notice, vetted and approved by the DOE, in at least two widely circulated newspapers for two consecutive weeks.  This notice shall contain or be:

  1. stating the name of the applicant;
  2. the location of the land or address in respect of which the environmental impact assessment relates;
  3. stating that the application has been made and indicating the location and nature of the proposal to which the application relates;
  4. stating that an EIA has been prepared in respect of the proposal;
  5. naming a place where a copy of the EIA may be inspected free of charge;
  6. specifying the times and the period (being the prescribed period) during which the EIA can be inspected;
  7. stating that any person may during the prescribed period make objections and representations to the DOE in relation to the effects of the proposed project activity on the environment;
  8. the date on which the EIA shall be available to the public;
  9. the deadline and address for filing comments on the conclusions and recommendations of the EIA.

 

The public may receive the information that is publicly available by the following means:

  • Through a notice (vetted and approved by the DOE), in at least two widely circulated newspapers for two consecutive weeks. 
  • Through public consultations between the developer and interested members of the public.
  • Through the DOE’s invitation for written comments.
    And, depending on certain factors, through a public hearing of an activity obligated to submit an EIA.

(Regulation 18 (1) (a) and (b) from the SI No. 107 of 1995 and its amendment SI No. 24 of 2007)

Appeal

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Possibilities for appeal

According to Regulation 27 (from EIA Amendment Regulation, SI No. 24 of 2007), when the DOE has decided that a project shall not proceed, a developer may, within twenty-one days after the DOE’s decision, appeal in writing to the Minister, against the decision of the DOE.
Then, upon an appeal, the Minister shall cause to be appointed a Tribunal to hear and determine all appeals (Regulation 27A (1) from EIA Amendment Regulation, SI No. 24 of 2007).

Also, Regulation 27B (5) (from EIA Amendment Regulation, SI No. 24 of 2007) states that the Tribunal has the power to vary, amend, alter or reverse a decision made by the DOE as long as it is in the interest of the sustainable use of Belize’s natural resources.

ESIA practice

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Annual no. of ESIAs

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Number of projects evaluated:
2009-2010   61
2008-2009  34
2007-2008  47
2006-2007  33

Number of projects granted environmental clearance:
2009-2010  45
2008-2009  33
2007-2008  35
2006-2007  29

Since 2009-2010 the DOE started to systematize data concerning projects evaluated (61), numbers of EIAs (11), number of LLES (5) and approved (45).

 

Central ESIA database

The DOE’s website contains the list of the projects being processed and their status, along with other information.