Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment in China

From regulation to practice 1

Authored by: Mariachiara Alberton

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Policy in China

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138831117
eBook ISBN: 9781315736761
Adobe ISBN:


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It was in October 2002 with the adoption of the Environmental Impact Assessment Law of the People's Republic of China 2 that the public participation in environmental impact assessment (EIA) was specifically introduced (for an overview see, for example, Moorman et al. 2007; Ning et al. 1988; Tang et al. 2005; Li 1999; Wang et al. 2003; Wu et al. 2011). Before this law was issued, only construction projects required the EIA and involved, in theoretical terms, public participation. The EIA Law includes now the EIA and the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for governmental plans for land use and regional development, as well as plans for industry, agriculture, energy, transportation, urban development, tourism and natural resource development. However, not all projects and plans involve public participation. According to articles 7, 11, 16 and 21 in case of construction projects with an expected great impact on the local environment or in case of special plans concerning projects in industry, agriculture, pasturage, forestry, energy, water conservancy, communication, urban construction, tourism and exploration of natural resources (hereafter ‘special plans’) likely to produce an adverse environmental impact and directly relating to the environmental rights and interests of the public, public participation is prescribed. Of these regulations only projects are exempted that are defined as state secret or backbone of national economy such as energy projects. If a construction project is perceived to have a mild environmental impact it shall require the preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR), or the completion and submission of an EIA registration form only if the environmental impact is very small (projects of smaller size). Public participation is not required.

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