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Environmental Influence Review Becomes Mandatory Next Year

Environmental Influence Review Becomes Mandatory Next Year

Posted December. 08, 2004 23:08,   


Starting from next year, anyone who tries to build a road or promote a large-scale government funded construction business is required to first conduct research on possible environmental influences at the initial stage of assessing its business adequacy and then obtain approval by the Ministry of Environment.

The ministry announced Wednesday that the revised bill for its enforcement ordinance for basic environmental policy law was passed Tuesday at a cabinet meeting and scheduled to take into effect next year. The revised bill states that prior reviews for environmental influences are required for any government or local government body funded projects worth more than \50 billion and any road building regardless of the scale.

This prior review system was first adopted in August 2000, but until now was confined to only tour or industrial sites, residential land developments for new cities, and golf course construction.

According to the revised bill, major government funded projects, including roads, trail roads, dams, canals and ports, must first go through the environmental influence review process with the Ministry of Environment or regional environmental offices at the initial stage of planning or assessing the project adequacy.

In particular, highway construction must go through consultations at the stage of assessing adequacy. National or regional roads that usually do not perform adequacy assessments will be subjected to environmental consultation at the stage of selecting routes.

The revised bill is likely to prevent future environmental controversies like the Saemangum land reclamation project or the construction of a tunnel for the Seoul-Busan high-speed railway through Mount Cheonseong. Both projects were confronted with serious opposition from several environmental groups, as possible damages to their environments were addressed after their construction began.

Unlike the existing assessment system for environmental influences, the prior environmental influence review is a system to check the appropriateness from the beginning at the initial stage of project promotion. In other words, if the Ministry of Environment refuses the project at the review consultation, the project itself has to be changed or replaced.

Wan-Bae Lee roryrery@donga.com