Official: Pull plug on polluters
A senior environment official yesterday listed 10 kinds of projects that should be halted due to their negative environmental impacts.
The projects include those being phased out or banned by State industrial policies, ones located at such areas as drinking water sources and nature reserves, and those that do not match regional development and environmental protection plans.
Projects that consume large quantities of energy and discharge more pollutants than permitted should also be rejected.
Vice-Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Pan Yue called on environment authorities across the country to closely watch and strictly conduct project environmental impact assessments.
Severe punishments should be levied on those responsible for projects that are launched without environmental impact assessments, Pan said at the First China International Forum on Environmental Impact Assessment, which opened yesterday in Bo'ao of South China's Hainan Province.
Pan said environmental impact assessments in China face many challenges.
Some local governments, solely paying attention to the introduction of investments,give approval to projects without regard to whether they are environmentally harmful.
And a number of unqualified environmental impact assessment bodies fail to stick to scientific assessments and even offer false statistics.
Projects which do not go through environmental procedures should be stopped and officials who do not fulfill their responsibilities should be punished, Pan said.
Public participation and supervision in the process of decision- making will be strengthened so that public opinion can be taken into full consideration.
Those who give false assessments will be deprived of work qualifications, Pan said, adding that foreign environmental impact assessment bodies are welcomed to enter the Chinese market.
Richard Fuggle, president of the US-based International Association for Impact Assessment, said Pan's commitment to strengthening environmental impact assessments in China is "very impressive" because it shows political will.
"In the west, we have lots of talk, but little political will," he said. He was also attending the three-day forum.
Conducting environmental impact assessment will help China deal with the dilemma between economic development and environmental protection, he added.
China's Law on Environmental Impact Assessment took effect on September 1 last year.
According to the law, plans on land use and for the development of land and river regions and sea areas have to be assessed to see how they might impact on the environment.
The law demands that public opinion on development plans which could potentially have a negative impact on the environment should be solicited through meetings or public hearings.
Sources with the administration said the forum is planned to be held every two years.