The amendments brought to the Environment Protection Act, 2002 ("EPA") under the COVID-19 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2020 (the "Act") mainly concern the implementation of temporary measures in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.
Section 28B(1) of the EPA provides for an extension of 30 days to the time limits for compliance with enforcement, prohibition and/or stop orders, when these fall wholly or partly during:
- the COVID-19 period (defined as the period starting on 23 March 2020 and ending on 1 June 2020 or ending on such later date as the prime minister may, by regulations, prescribe under the Act); or
- a period of 21 days after the COVID-19 period lapses or not later than such further period as may be prescribed.
The extension period will be deemed to commence, with regard to an extension under
(1) above, after the COVID-19 period lapses, and with regards to an extension under (2) above, after the 21 day-period lapses. It is to be noted that a further period for the commencement date of the extension may be prescribed.
A similar extension mechanism is applicable, under section 28B(2) of the EPA, to EIA licences which were to expire either:
- during the COVID-19 period, in which case environmental impact assessment ("EIA") licences will be deemed not to have expired and will remain valid for a period of 30 days after the COVID-19 period lapses or for such further period as may be prescribed; or
- during a period of 21 days after the COVID-19 period lapses, in which case, the EIA licences wil be deemed not to have expired and will remain valid for a period of 30 days after the period of 21 days lapses, or for such further period as may be prescribed.
Hotels, guest houses and tourist residences of more than four bedrooms are now temporarily exempted from the payment of the environment protection fee ("EPF"), a green tax based on the "polluter pays" principle. This exemption is applicable for the period starting 1 March 2020 and ending 31 December 2020, or for such further period as may be prescribed. It is to be noted that on 18 March 2020, in accordance with the Environment Protection (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations 2020, the EPF was deemed to have been suspended as from 1 February 2020 until 31 July 2020 for the above-mentioned designated establishments.
Another notable amendment to the EPA is one brought to the list of undertakings requiring a preliminary environmental report ("PER"), which now exonerates the rearing of poultry under 15 000 heads from obtaining PERs. It is to be noted that, in accordance with section 17(1) of the EPA, the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change is empowered to request a person carrying out or proposing to carry an unlisted undertaking to submit a PER or an application for an EIA licence.
For a summary of recent legislative amendments introduced in Mauritius in relation to COVID-19, please click here.
Reviewed by P. Maxime Sauzier SC, an Executive at ENSafrica (Mauritius).
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