The ineffectiveness of the EIA procedure has once again been raised in Ukraine: a discussion has broken out online

The ineffectiveness of the EIA procedure has once again been raised in Ukraine: a discussion has broken out online

Katerina Belousova

PAEW's position has sparked a lively and fierce debate in the eco-community

Lyudmyla Tsyhanok, President of the Association of Environmental Professionals (PAEW), said that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure in Ukraine does not fully fulfill its function and does not contribute to improving environmental health, despite stricter standards than in the EU. In her opinion, the procedure has become an instrument of pressure on business.

The imperfection of the EIA is confirmed by a number of court decisions, which shows the need for immediate and comprehensive solutions, she wrote in a column for Ekonomichna Pravda.

"Obviously, today the EIA tool does not satisfy either the public or business, but the current rules have satisfied the officials for years," she wrote, adding that the EIA has turned into a tool of division into "own" and "foreigners", especially in the areas of subsoil use and forestry economy

Tsyganok explained that the Ukrainian version of EIA differs from the European one, because:

  • applies not only to the types of planned activities provided for in Annex I to Directive 2011/92/EC, but also to the types of activities provided for in Annex II, which increases the number of EIA cases several times;
  • the criteria for carrying out EIA have been significantly expanded, and permission is required for a greater number of activities. After all, objects that really significantly affect the environment are "lost" among other projects;
  • there are no clearly prescribed requirements regarding the issues that must be considered during the environmental assessment of the activity;
  • refusal to issue a conclusion that contradicts the provisions of the Directive, which clearly regulates the EIA procedure;
  • the law "On environmental impact assessment" gives significant powers to the expert of the authorized body. However, the objectivity and expertise of the expert's conclusions do not inspire confidence. During the period of the EIA, not a single case of such "experts" providing proposals for an environmentally sound option was recorded.

Among the factors that call into question the objectivity of the EIA procedure, she named:

  • the absence of a mandatory qualification training requirement for developers of EIA reports, which leads to a deterioration in the quality of writing reports and a lack of a unified approach to preparation;
  • the methodical recommendations did not solve this problem, because they mostly contain general instructions and also contradict the legal norms;
  • for many types of activities there are no specific criteria and methods of impact assessment;
  • missing or outdated modeling programs to limit activities and map potential areas that may be impacted.

Tsyganok emphasized that during the 6 years of implementation of the EIA, the procedure had a number of negative results. Thus, even before the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the auditors of the Accounting Chamber established that:

  • the general state of nature management is dangerous;
  • state policy is ineffective;
  • target indicators for the established control periods are not met, in some cases they are unattainable and unrealistic.

According to her, entrepreneurs bear a significant financial burden, because they spent almost UAH 5 billion purely on conducting the procedure. There were also "groups of eco-tourists", i.e. people who terrorize business entities under the guise of "interested public" in order to obtain illegitimate benefits.

"The public has repeatedly noted that EIA is a tool "for their own", businesses friendly to officials, which is confirmed by a number of conclusions issued by the relevant ministry, which completely discredit the European principles of EIA, – emphasized Tsyganok. "Responsible business also agrees with the public, for which obtaining a conclusion from the EIA has become a tool of pressure and collapse in the case of "unfriendly" relations."

She noted that such "legal puzzles" scare investors away from Ukraine, as they can lead to loss of funds and reputational risks. However, the EIA procedure continues to enrich the pockets of dishonest officials, destroy the economy, and undermine public trust.

In her opinion, to solve these problems, it is necessary to combine the efforts of business and communities in the fight against corruption and environmental pollution.

It is worth noting that Tsyganok's position sparked lively discussions on Facebook.

Thus, some representatives of the eco-community discussed the expediency of highlighting the problems of EIA, because the gaps in the procedure were discussed many times. And it is advised to report the corruption component individually to law enforcement agencies.

The director of the public organization "Ecology-Pravo-Lbdina" Olena Kravchenko, among other things, accused Gypsies of greenwashing and critical errors in the reports from the EIA made by PAEW specialists: "they have real pearls: birds in holes." However, it is worth noting that nesting in burrows is completely natural for some birds, for example, bee-eaters and swallows.

Vasylyna Nikulnikova, representative of the Interregional Bureau of Environmental Protection, also called on PAEW to work exclusively with business and not to interfere in the activities of the public.

However, in the discussion, a number of people supported the position of Tsyganok. For example, scientist Arsen Pukish explained that the company could be denied for formal reasons, while other developers in similar circumstances have no problem obtaining conclusions.

"It is a difficult situation, in fact there is more than one problem, but not legally. These are very favorable conditions for abuse. Business is silent, fearing persecution. No one wants to be a guinea pig in this fight against corruption. Everyone understands this! The system protects itself. That is why the situation has arisen that specialized associations, which unite businesses across the country, speak for them, and officials, as always, are "out of time, rocking the boat, etc.," wrote lawyer Olena Koshyk.

As EcoPolitic reported earlier, President of the Association of Environmental Professionals (PAEW) Lyudmila Tsyganok named 5 critical gaps in the implementation of environmental impact assessments (procedures for environmental impact assessment) in Ukraine, which do not meet European standards and complicate work of investors.

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