Building impact reports will be released

Updated: 2013-12-10 23:27

By Wu Wencong (China Daily)

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Complete reports on the environmental impact of construction projects with a high potential for polluting the environment will be disclosed to the public from Jan 1, the Environmental Protection Ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said in a statement on its website that it will fully disclose a project's environmental impact assessment for public supervision, excluding matters that concern State secrets, business secrets and personal privacy.

So far, only extracts of environmental impact assessment reports have been disclosed.

The ministry also said pledges by a local government that a construction project will not harm the environment and people's livelihoods must also be released to the public in order to make local officials more accountable.

All documents filed during an environmental impact assessment of a project should be disclosed, regardless of what the assessment finds. The ministry said that people should judge for themselves if environmental officials are doing their jobs in a legal, scientific, open, honest and effective manner.

"The statement has been issued to solve repeated violations of the current environmental impact assessment system, such as illegal construction, changing a project before receiving an approval, and forging data or conclusions," said an official at the Environmental Protection Ministry who asked not to be named.

Ma Jun, director at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, an NGO that has been calling for the disclosure of environmental impact reports in China for years, said it is a great advance for the government.

"But this is also just the first step to achieve public participation in the assessment process," said Ma. "The government should take measures to ensure that all stakeholders in projects are informed when information is disclosed."

The ministry also said in a notice on Tuesday that there will be penalties for false information disclosures.

The authorities will also revoke business licenses of any employee or agency found forging data. For projects where construction or production starts before approval is given, the authorities will hand over those responsible for the construction to discipline inspection departments.