An amendment to China’s Environmental Impact Assessment Law was passed in the beginning of July. The law originally went into effect in 2003, aiming to mitigate the damage that construction projects cause the environment and promote the coordinated development of the economy, society and nature. Although it has played a positive role in the prevention of pollution and ecological damage, some loopholes in the legislation have also made themselves evident over the 13 years it has been in place, and calls for a revision were longstanding.
The amendment includes a couple of salient points.
First of all, the administrative requirements for EIAs have been weakened. Before it was amended, the law stated that an EIA had to be obtained before other construction permits could be processed. The revised version however no longer holds EIAs to be a prerequisite in order for other approvals to be obtained. Policymakers claim that this will improve administrative efficiency.
Secondly, penalties for those who violate the law are intensified. Before it was amended, the law stated that enterprises who carried out construction before receiving approval would be fined no more than 200 thousand Yuan. A fine of this proportion would constitute a mere drop in the bucket for the richer and bigger projects. The amendment substantially increases the fines so as to make violations of the law extremely costly. The construction projects will now be charged 1% to 5% of their total investment quota, according to the degree of violation and damages. The penalty for violating a trillion dollar project can reach over a million Yuan.