CHINA / National

China vows to strengthen environmental assessments
Updated: 2006-05-28 09:31

China's top environmental protection official has pledged to block construction projects that fail to pass stringent environmental impact assessments.

Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said yesterday "environmental impact assessments will set the standard and no development project which damages the environment will get approved."

Zhou told a national meeting on management of environmental impact evaluation in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, that environmentally damaging activities were occurring nationwide.

"Some areas have disregarded the public's living environment and launched development projects in a blind and chaotic way," Zhou said. "A number of projects that have produced serious pollution and damaged the ecology have even been cited as image projects."

Environmental degradation has become a problem in social and economic development, he said.

He said properly conducted environmental impact assessments were the key to change the appalling environmental situation in the country.

Zhou had asked environmental protection workers to be strict in examining and approving construction projects, while maintaining efficiency, openness and transparency.

China has 68 organizations specializing in environmental impact assessments.

Environmental protection officials had evaluated 55,000 construction projects in the last two years, and had denied approval of 1,190 projects, with investments totaling 170 billion yuan (US$20.96 billion) for failing to meet environmental protection standards.

He cited, as an example, 525 power projects, of which 32 were ordered to halt construction after failing to meet standards.

Stringent assessments could help curb the overheated investment in fixed assets and align construction supply more closely with demand, said Kuang Yaoqiu, a fellow researcher with the Guangzhou-based Institute of Geochemistry.


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