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Scope of Environmental Impact Assessments and Standards for Determining Specific Assessment Items Amended

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There have been many concerns expressed by a wide range of organizations regarding the revisions to these standards. In response, the EPA preannounced the revisions on 27 April 2017 and held 10 public hearings over a period of two months. Adjustments were made to the draft based on concerns and questions raised by participants. The EPA preannounced revisions for a second time on 26 January 2018 to further refine the revisions. A public hearing was held on 12 February to collect more opinions. After careful consideration more revisions were announced. The key points of the revisions are as follows:

1. Sensitive environments previously referred to as “designated land approved for re-zoning for agricultural use” has been revised to “designated areas for agricultural use”. The area for farmlands has been increased to 100,000 hectares.

2. The extension limits for applying mining rights of mining lands were approved. Development activities located in sensitive environments or beyond a certain scope must undergo an EIA. Standards were added regarding enterprises that have mining rights which have yet to expire (within a period of ten years) and already undergone an EIA. The enterprises may apply for an extension and are therefore exempt from undergoing a second EIA. Standards for determining the need for an EIA were tightened with regards to mine prospecting, mining, and dirt removal.

3. Buildings over 120 meters are required to undergo an EIA.

4. It is added that an enterprise reusing facilities that were already approved by a competent authority for reuse, and that will not expand development to additional land, is exempt from an EIA.

5. Renewable power generation facilities under 2,000 kW in capacity are exempt from an EIA. The standards for thermal energy generators have been revised. Thermal energy units with a capacity of 10,000 kW or more will be required to undergo an EIA. The need for an EIA for generators that draw hot spring water, which is returned to underground water sources, will be based on standards for thermal energy generation, rather than the amount of hot spring water used. For hydropower, installations that make use of existing ditches, irrigation or other waterworks and have a capacity that is below 20,000 kW are exempt from undergoing an EIA. 

6. Regulations have been added requiring an EIA for the development of natural gas storage tanks.

7. Regulations for conducting an EIA for factories that have been re-purposed for non-industrial development are deleted.

8. Camping areas on sloped lands that are applying to develop or expand development on one hectare or more must undergo an EIA.

9. Development activities taking place near important wetlands, that have been permitted by competent authorities as complying with their conservation plans for important wetlands, will be exempt from undergoing an EIA.

Ministry of Environment