The Environmental Impact Assessment process is the process of assessing and evaluating the possible and potential environmental effects for a definite project, where such studies take place before the phase of the projects' implementation in order to decide the best options to minimize the environmental impacts and hazards and to handle the negative aspects that are expected to happen before proceeding with the implementation step.
Therefore, the EIA is a mechanism to help in understanding the potential environmental impact of the projects.
The EIA system is applied on projects with its different types, whether Construction, Infrastructure, Mining and/or others; and this whole system is meant to preserve and protect the environment from the risks caused by projects to the surrounding environment, whether land, water, soil or air...etc.
- Environmental Law No.4 of the year 1994 amended by Law No.9 of the year 2009;
- Decision of the Council of Ministers 338 of the year 1995 concerning the issuance of the Executive Regulations of the Environmental Law and its amendments.
Introduction about the EIA System and its function
The EIA system has been adopted by virtue of Egyptian Environmental Law No.4 of the year 1994, which has been amended by Law No.9 of the year 2009, its Executive Regulation and its amendments. Projects with its different types may have hazardous effects on the environmental stability, so the EIA system will enable the government to perform the following:
- Implement the appropriate control and management measures;
- Propose different alternatives;
- Protect the environment through the local authorities, where they identify the project, its environmental impacts and decide the procedures to be followed in respect to the above-mentioned.
The steps of implementing the EIA System
- The natural or legal person must submit an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project;
- The above-mentioned Assessment will be submitted to the competent administrative body;
- The Assessment will be conducted in accordance with the Elements, specifications and designs issued by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) in coordination with the competent administrative body;
- The competent administrative body is responsible for submitting the Assessment to the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), where it will inform its decision about the Assessment to the competent administrative body within 30 days from receiving the Assessment, otherwise it will be considered as an approval;
- The competent administrative body is responsible for informing the project owner with the decision (opinion) of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) , where such owner has the right to submit a written objection on such result within 30 days from receiving it.
The aforementioned steps were stated in the Environmental Law No.4 of the year 1994 as amended by Law No.9 of the year 2009 in the following Articles:
Each juristic or natural person, whether private or public, shall be committed to submitting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study concerning the facility or the project to the competent administrative authority or the licensing authority before commencing with the implementation of the project. This study shall be prepared in accordance with the elements, designs, specifications, criteria and qualitative loads issued by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) in agreement with the competent administrative authorities.
The competent administrative authorities or the licensing authority shall send a copy of the completed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study, mentioned in the preceding article, to the EEAA to express its opinion thereon.
The competent administrative authority shall notify the owner of the establishment of the result of the assessment by a registered letter with return receipt requested. The owner of the establishment may object to the result in writing within thirty days of notification before a committee to be formed by a decree of the Minister in charge of Environmental Affairs.
By virtue of the above-mentioned Law and as previously mentioned, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) is the Authority in charge of setting principles and measures for the EIA where Article 2 stipulates that "An agency for the protection and promotion of the environment shall be established within the cabinet premiership under the name the "Environmental Affairs Agency". The Agency shall have a public juridical personality and shall be affiliated to the competent Minister for Environmental Affairs. It shall have an independent budget and its head office shall be located in Cairo. The Minister for Environmental Affairs may establish branches for the Agency in the governorates by ministerial decree, priority to be given to industrial areas".
The EEAA was established in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Law No.4 of the year 1994, where such Agency replaces the Agency that was established before by virtues of the Presidential Decree No.631 of the year 1982, where Article 4 of the Environmental Law stipulates that" The Environmental Affairs Agency shall replace the agency established by Presidential Decree 631 of 1982 in all its rights and obligations, and the employees of the said agency shall be transferred with their grades and seniority to the Environmental Affairs Agency. Below are some of the EEAA responsibilities:
- Preparing studies on the environmental situation;
- Setting the standards and requirements for the owners of projects to be committed with, before construction and during operation;
- Gathering national and international information on the environmental situation and its changes.
Categories of EIA Studies
The Environmental Impact Assessment process is decided and takes its way by studying some conditions related to the project, so such process undergoes the four following main rules:
- The type of activity that the establishment practices;
- The extent to which natural resources are exploited;
- The location of the project;
- Type of energy used to operate the project.
According to the above-mentioned, projects were categorized into three groups depending on the severity of potential environmental impacts, which are the following:
- Group A (the white list), which includes establishments and projects having low environmental impacts;
- Group B (the grey list), which includes establishments and projects that are likely to cause environmental impacts;
- Group C (the black list), which includes establishments and projects having severe environmental impacts and require integrated environmental management.
Eventually, it is a must also to mention that Environmental Law sets punishments on establishments that does not follow the rule of submitting the EIA report before starting the operation of the project, where Article 84 BIS stipulates that "Whoever violates provisions of Articles 19, 23 of this law shall be fined a sum of not less than L.E. fifty thousand and not more than L.E. one million."
As concluded from the above-mentioned about the EIA system in Egypt and by the careful review of the Egyptian Environmental Law and its rules, the EIA system is based on clear and articulated legal provisions that state for the function and importance of the EIA System, however, it needs to cover more aspects and elements of the process and the provisions needs to be more detailed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.