Head of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Kemraj Parsram says the regulatory body has a meticulous screening process in place which allows for the accurate determination of when certain projects would require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Parsram’s comments came on the heels of concerns in some sections of the local media regarding the EPA’s decision to allow some projects to be exempted from providing an EIA.
During a recent interview, the EPA Head said all projects, including those not related to the oil sector, go through a screening process that includes an evaluation of the project summary or any other information provided to the agency as part of the application or any other data the agency may request. He said too that it involves site inspections by using satellite and GIS data to examine the proposed location in order to determine what ecological or social components may be affected. “And if feasible, we physically go on the ground to verify the information provided and to boost our understanding from our GIS screening,” stated the EPA head while adding that input is sought, when necessary, from the EPA’s sister agencies as well as residents who may be in proximity to the proposed location for the project.
Upon completion of the screening process, Parsram explained that the EPA may determine that the environmental impacts of the project are sensitive, diverse, or may be unprecedented. In such circumstances, an EIA would be required.
He said, “If we already have enough information to determine that the impacts will not be significant, irreversible, or long term, then it would be exempt from an EIA. There will always be some amount of impact where development is concerned, but the question is the extent to which these impacts are significant for proposed activities.”
Parsram was keen to note that when the agency determines that no EIA is required following the completion of a competent evaluation, it should not be misconstrued to mean that the project was approved and that there are no impacts of note.
He said projects which do not need an EIA are still required to submit mitigation measures via an Environmental and Social Management Plan. Parsram said this document considers baseline data and other monitoring requirements.
With the guidance of its independent Environmental Assessment Board, other competent staff members at the EPA, and international experts, when necessary, Parsram said all projects are without question, subject to proper due diligence.
He said this is what was obtained for the EIAs in relation to the Liza Phase One and Two projects as well as Payara.