◇ Announcement of a full revision of an Environmental Impact Assessment Act in a unified way (July 21, 2011).
◇ A Prior Environmental Review System is reorganized as Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment and Small Scale Environmental Impact Assessment and the penalties for both false and poor assessment are strengthened.
◇ The Environmental Impact Assessor System is introduced to prevent a poor assessment.
◇ The process of gathering opinions of residents is strengthened to reduce social conflicts arising from environmental impact of a development project.
□ A full revision bill of an Environmental Impact Assessment Act was passed at the National Assembly in June 23, 2011 and it was confirmed and announced in July 21, 2011, which unifies an Environmental Assessment System that was divided into the Framework Act on Environmental Policy and the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.
○ Accordingly, a Prior Environmental Review System (the Framework Act on Environmental Policy) and an Environmental Impact Assessment System (the Environmental Impact Assessment Act), both of which have been enforced separately, are united as an Environmental Impact Assessment Act, which means an application of a single foundation could greatly raise systemicity and efficiency.
○ In addition, as the Prior Environmental Review System that has been criticized for a lack of penalty provisions compared with the Environmental Impact Assessment System is reorganized as Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment and Small Scale Environmental Impact Assessment, and as a result, the penalties for false and poor documentations and management of consultations are reinforced.
□ The Environmental Impact Assessment System that has been enforced for 30 years is transformed this year as an organized system, through this full revision for the unification of relevant laws, in order to guarantee sustainable development from an upper administrative plan for the development project to a small-scale development plan.
□ This revised act contains improvement measures to address problems that have consistently been raised in the implementation course of an Environmental Impact Assessment System including false and poor documentation of environmental impact assessment reports.
○ In order to secure objectivity and professionalism of environmental impact assessment and prevent poor documentations, the national qualification system for ‘Environmental Impact Assessor’ who professionally draws up an environmental impact assessment report is introduced and the first exam will be held in the second half of 2013.
○ A penalty is newly inserted for false and poor preparation for a strategic environmental impact assessment report and a small scale environmental impact assessment report. Those who copy another report or falsely write a report can face up to 2 years of prison or face a fine of up to 20 million won.
□ The procedure of gathering opinions from citizens is strengthened to reduce social conflicts over a development project between interested parties including developers, local residents and environmental groups in the process of an environmental impact assessment
○ The procedure and method for gathering public opinions in a strategic environmental impact assessment process are enhanced to the level of those of the current environmental impact assessment by improving a problem that the procedure of gathering public opinions was not specified in detail in a previous prior environmental review stage.
○ A hearing is to be held at the request of a citizen when certain requirements are met and re-gathering of public opinions, results of public opinions and reflection of the results are to be made public.
□ This Environmental Impact Assessment Act will take effect in July 21, 2012 one year after its promulgation.
○ The Ministry of Environment said it would gather various opinions form business operators, experts and citizens and then prepare a reasonable revision bill in a revision process of subordinate statues and relevant regulations for the enforcement of the act in the future.
□ After it was first introduced in 1977, the Environmental Impact Assessment System was fully enforced in 1982 along with the foundation of Environment Administration in 1980, which was later promoted to the Ministry of Environment. There had been several enactments and revisions governing the system.
* Changes of ground law: Environment Preservation Act (1977) - Framework Act on Environmental Policy (1990) - Environmental Impact Assessment Act (1993) - Act on Impact Assessment on Environment, Traffic, and Disasters, etc. (1999) - Environmental Impact Assessment Act (2008~)
□ An official from the Ministry of Environment said although there are negative views and misunderstandings that an Environmental Impact Assessment System is a “panacea for environmental problems,” a “letter of acquittal for development projects,” or a “formality that consumes much time and money,”
○, the system has evolved through a change of perception of business operators and the public for the environment, scientific prediction of environmental impact, and constant improvement of assessment procedure and method.
○ And this revision of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act would be an opportunity for dramatic development of an Environmental Impact Assessment System through the introduction of an advanced system that could be put on a par with that of developed nations, added he.