Performing the tasks assigned by the Prime Minister in Decision No. 2197/QĐ-TTg dated 22nd December 2020 promulgating the List and assigning the agency in charge of drafting documents detailing the implementation of laws and resolutions passed by the XIV National Assembly at its 10th Session and Decision No. 343/QĐ-TTg dated 12th March 2021 promulgating the Plan for implementation of the Law on Environmental Protection (LEP), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) has taken the prime responsibility and coordinated with other Ministries, sectors, local authorities, relevant agencies and experts to develop a Draft Decree detailing a number of articles of the LEP 2020 (hereinafter referred to as the Draft Decree).
The need to issue a Decree
The LEP 2020 was passed by the XIV National Assembly at its 10th Session and will take effect from 1 January 2022 with the aim of timely institutionalizing the Communist Party’s guidelines and the Government’s policies on reforming Việt Nam’s environmental institutions in harmony with the environmental protection legislation in the world, meeting the requirements of international integration. The highest goal is to improve environmental quality, protect people’s health, maintain ecological balance, biodiversity conservation and sustainable economic development.
The LEP has many provisions aimed at drastically reforming administrative procedures, contributing to reducing compliance costs of enterprises through the following provisions: narrowing the subjects required to carry out environmental impact assessment (EIA); integrating administrative procedures into an environmental license; synchronizing environmental management tools in each phase of the project, starting from the consideration of investment policy, project appraisal, project implementation until the project is officially put into operation and finished. For the first time, the LEP is designed with a policy framework aiming to form a law on environmental protection that is comprehensive and in harmony with the socio-economic legal system.
The LEP 2020 was passed with 16 Chapters and 171 Articles (reducing 04 Chapters and increasing 01 Article compared to the LEP 2014), of which 65 contents are assigned by the Government. In order to soon bring the provisions of the LEP into life, and also ensure the conditions for the effective organization for implementation of the LEP, the promulgation of a Decree detailing the implementation of a number of articles of the LEP 2020 is necessary.
Purposes, views and some basic contents of the Draft Decree
The Draft Decree was developed with the purposes of ensuring that the provisions of the LEP 2020 are implemented promptly, synchronously, consistently and effectively as soon as the LEP comes into force; ensuring compliance with the Constitution and the LEP 2020, and other relevant legal documents; ensuring consistency and synchronization with other legal documents in the current legal system; ensuring conformity with international treaties to which Việt Nam is a signatory; improving transparency, feasibility and policy on administrative reform, creating favourable conditions for implementation; inheriting and developing current relevant regulations on environmental protection; supplementing new regulations to fundamentally overcome difficulties and obstacles arising in reality of the current legal system on environmental protection;
The Draft Decree also clarifies the management contents; clearly defines the roles, positions, tasks and powers of the state management agencies in charge of environmental protection on the principle of ensuring the consistency of state management on environmental protection, without overlap in functions and tasks, only one agency is assigned with the main responsibility to meet practical requirements, to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of state management on environmental protection; ensures clear assignment and decentralization in the state management on environmental protection; strengthens local decentralization; strengthens the responsibilities and obligations of all agencies, organizations and individuals for environmental protection work.
The Draft Decree includes 13 chapters, 197 articles and annexes, with some basic contents such as:
Regarding protection of water environment, the Draft Decree stipulates the contents, order and procedures for promulgating the plan for surface water environment quality management for inter-provincial rivers, lakes and intra-provincial rivers, lakes, which play an important role in socio-economic development and environmental protection; the relationship of the plan with the national plan for environmental protection; responsibilities of MONRE and Provincial People’s Committees in formulating, promulgating or submitting a plan for surface water environment quality management for promulgation.
Regarding protection of air environment, the Draft Decree specifically stipulates the contents, order and procedures for promulgating the national plan for air quality management and the provincial plan for air quality management; responsibilities of MONRE, Provincial People’s Committees in organizing the implementation of the plan. In particular, the Draft Decree also specifically stipulates the implementation of emergency measures in case the air quality is seriously polluted as well as the determination of the seriously polluted air environment at the inter-regional, inter-provincial and provincial level.
Regarding protection of land environment, the Draft Decree stipulates that areas must be surveyed, assessed and classified in terms of land environment quality; the survey and assessment of potentially contaminated areas is carried out at a preliminary level and the contaminated areas is carried out in detail. The Draft Decree stipulates specific responsibilities of the MONRE and the Provincial People’s Committees for disposing, rehabilitating and remedying the environment in the land areas with soil contamination left behind or unidentified organizations and individuals causing contamination; responsibilities of organizations and individuals for disposing, rehabilitating and remedying the environment in the land areas with soil contamination caused by them. Accordingly, organizations and individuals that contaminate the soil environment must be handled for violations and remedy the consequences through disposing, rehabilitating and remedying the contaminated land areas.
Regarding protection of natural heritage environment, the Draft Decree stipulates criteria for establishing and recognizing other natural heritages; stipulates the ranking of other natural heritages into provincial, national and special national natural heritage based on their scale, value and importance; stipulates the order, procedures and competence to establish and recognize other natural heritages, order, procedures and competence to nominate for recognition of natural heritages recognized by international organizations; stipulates environmental management and protection measures for natural heritages, responsibilities of the MONRE, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, ministries and local authorities in survey and evaluation, environmental management and protection of natural heritages.
Regarding environmental zoning, the Draft Decree stipulates the environmental zoning for natural geographical areas with environmentally sensitive factors into strictly protected zones, emission restricted zones and other zones; specifies the determination of environmental zoning in the national environmental protection planning, the provincial planning to propose the orientation for environmental protection for strictly protected zones and emission restricted zones; assigns the responsibilities for the Provincial People’s Committees to prescribe the roadmap for applying the best available technology, requirements on environmental protection of production, business and service activities that are likely to pollute the environment in order to ensure that they do not pollute the environment with a roadmap to relocate or stop operating as prescribed by law for production, business and service activities.
Regarding environmental criteria to classify investment projects, on the basis of groups of environmental criteria specified in Clause 1, Article 28 of the LEP 2020, in order to ensure uniformity and consistency between the legal provisions on environmental protection and others relevant, the Draft Decree details each group of environmental criteria, specifically: scale, capacity of the project (approach the classification of projects according to the legal provisions on public investment, investment, construction and others relevant); types of production, business and services of the project (classified into 02 types with risks and without risks of polluting the environment); scale of land use area, land with water surface, use of the project’s marine area (approach according to decentralization of management authority of the legal provisions on natural resources and environment of sea and islands and others relevant); scale of exploitation of natural resources (approach according to decentralization of management authority of the legal provisions on water and mineral resources); in particular, each group of types and characteristics of the project has been specified to be associated with each environmentally sensitive element specified at point C, Clause 1, Article 28 of the LEP 2020. On that basis, the Draft Decree stipulates a list of types of production, business and services that are at risk of polluting the environment and classified according to 03 levels of capacity: large, medium and small (Appendix 6); details the List of projects belonging to group I, group II and group III on the basis of a combination of environmental criteria specified above (Appendix 7a, 7b and 7c).
The Draft Decree also stipulates details on consultation in EIA implementation on the basis of inheriting the provisions of Decree No. 40/2019/NĐ-CP dated 13 May 2019 on subjects and forms of consultation through organizing meetings to collect comments of the public community; collect written comments from relevant agencies and organizations and prescribe a number of special consultation cases. Also, the Draft Decree stipulates details on the form of consultation through posting on the website of the standing appraisal agency; stipulates responsibilities of investment project owners in the process of project preparation and implementation before operation in case of changes compared with the decision approving the results of appraisal of the EIA report.
Regarding environmental licenses, the Draft Decree stipulates the dossiers, order and procedures for awarding, adjusting, renewing, re-awarding and revoking environmental licenses; the appraisal and award of environmental licenses are carried out through the appraisal council and inspection team in the spirit of simplifying administrative procedures. The Draft Decree also stipulates responsibilities of standing agencies appraising and awarding environmental licenses, consultation and comment collection in the process of awarding environmental licenses. In addition, the Draft Decree stipulates the order and procedures for the revocation of an environmental license to ensure that it does not affect the establishment’s production and service business when the licensing agency issues the wrong authorization or the license contains contents contrary to the legal provisions, in accordance with the legal provisions on handling of administrative violations.
Regarding trial operation of waste treatment works after being awarded environmental licenses, the Draft Decree stipulates the plan and duration of trial operation of waste treatment works of the project; monitoring of wastes of waste treatment works during trial operation; responsibilities of the project owners, the environmental protection agencies of the province where projects are implemented. Also, the Draft Decree has clarified that other environmental protection works are not subject to trial operation in order to apply uniformly and consistently across the country.
Regarding management of domestic solid wastes, the Draft Decree stipulates the management of domestic solid wastes from agencies, organizations, concentrated production, business and service zones, and industrial clusters; responsibilities for managing domestic solid wastes from agencies, organizations, concentrated production, business and service zones, industrial clusters, and the selection of technology for domestic solid waste treatment; selection of investors, owners of domestic solid waste treatment; roadmap of domestic solid waste treatment by direct landfill technology. In order to concretize the provisions of the LEP 2020 on collecting waste fees based on weight or volume instead of the current average calculation per household or per capita, the Draft Decree stipulates the costs for collection, transportation and treatment of domestic solid wastes paid by local authorities to investors and provision of domestic solid waste treatment services; responsibilities of domestic solid waste collectors, transporters, treatment facilities and People’s Committees at all levels. The Draft Decree also stipulates a roadmap to restrict the production and import of disposable plastic products, non-biodegradable plastic packaging and products and goods containing microplastics.
Besides the above contents, the Draft Decree also stipulates the contents of environmental protection in production, business and service activities; urban and rural areas; responsibilities for recycling and disposing discarded products and packages of producing or importing organizations and individuals; environmental monitoring; environmental information system, database; prevention and response to environmental incidents; compensation for environmental damages; economic tools and resources for environmental protection; state management, inspection, investigation and online public services on environmental protection…
In order to ensure the proper implementation of the process of developing legal documents, also to make the documents feasible after its promulgation, on 17 June 2021, the full text of the Draft Decree and the Draft Report were published on the Government’s Portal, the MONRE’s Portal and the Vietnam Environment Administration’s Portal to collect comments from ministries, sectors, local authorities, relevant organizations and individuals before submitting to the Government for consideration and promulgation.
Châu Loan - Trung Thuận
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition II - 2021)
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Trần Hồng Hà sent a letter to collect comments to complete the Draft Decree
The LEP will take effect from 1 January 2022 with many new and breakthrough contents and policies, comprehensive and in harmony with the socio-economic legal system, focusing on improving the capacity of prevention, response and protection of environmental components and people’s health.
In order to ensure that the LEP is implemented and quickly comes into force as soon as it takes effect, the MONRE has developed a Draft Decree detailing a number of articles of the LEP and posted it for public comments on the Government and Ministry’s web portal.
With the aim of ensuring that the Decree when issued by the Government is highly feasible, in line with reality, fully includes the new contents and policies of the LEP 2020, on 21 June 2021, the MONRE Minister Trần Hồng Hà has sent a letter to request ministries, agencies, mass organizations, experts and officials working in the field of natural resources and environment to promote their roles, responsibilities, creativity, innovation and professional knowledge to spend time researching and providing comments to the Draft Decree. In which, focus on commenting and assessing comprehensively the Draft Decree; directly editing each specific content of the Decree, ensuring that the contents of the Decree are clear, understandable and feasible; proposing initiatives to further improve the Draft Decree on contents and drafting techniques. Comments and suggestions should be sent directly to the Minister via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com before 15 July 2021.