Subject to the nature, scale and environmental impact level of projects, authorities and investors are required to prepare strategic environment assessment reports and either environmental impact assessment reports (“EIAR”) or environment protection commitments (“EPC”) as conditions for the establishment and operation of certain projects in Vietnam.
1. Strategic Environment Assessment Reports
Projects that are subject to strategic environment assessment reports include strategies and plans on national socio-economic development at the national or provincial level. The agency responsible for building a national strategic project must prepare and submit a strategic environment assessment report to the relevant appraisal body. The appraisal is one of the grounds for approving the project. A strategic environment assessment report must include the following contents:
(i) general descriptions of the objectives, size and features of the project;
(ii) descriptions of the natural, economic, social and environmental conditions of the project;
(iii) a prediction of possible negative effects on the environment;
(iv) sources of data and appraisal methods; and
(v) proposed solutions and directions for the implementation of the project.
MONRE is responsible for forming a Strategic Environment Assessment Report Appraisal Board with regard to projects within the authority of the National Assembly, the Government and or Prime Minister. The relevant ministries have a responsibility to form Strategic Environment Assessment Report Appraisal Boards with regard to the projects under their respective authority. Provincial People’s Committees are responsible for forming Strategic Environment Assessment Report Appraisal Boards with regard to the projects under their respective authority or provincial People’s Councils’ authority.
2. Environmental Impact Assessment Report
Investment projects subject to compulsory “EIARs” cover the following main categories:
(i) nationally important projects;
(ii) projects using part of the land of or causing an adverse impact on a natural conservation zone, national park, historical and cultural site, natural heritage or classified beauty spot;
(iii) projects with a potentially adverse impact on a river watercourse, coastal area or area containing a protected ecosystem;
(iv) projects for the construction of infrastructure of EZs, IZs, HTZs, EPZs or craft village group;
(v) projects for construction of new urban centers or concentrated residential areas;
(vi) projects for exploitation and utilization of groundwater or natural resources on a large scale; and
(vii) other projects with a potential risk of causing an adverse impact on the environment.
Contents of EIAR
An EIAR is required to have the following main contents:
(i) enumeration and detailed description of the project’s construction components, construction area, time and workload; operational technology for each component and the entire project;
(ii) overall assessment of the environmental status at the project site and neighboring areas; the sensitivity and load capacity of the environment;
(iii) detailed assessment of possible environmental impacts when the project is executed and environmental components and socio-economic elements to be impacted by the project; prediction of environmental incidents possibly caused by the project;
(iv) specific measures to minimize bad environmental impacts, prevent and respond to environmental incidents;
(v) commitments to take environmental protection measures during project construction and operation;
(vi) lists of project items, the program on management and supervision of environmental issues during project execution;
(vii) cost estimates for building environmental protection works within the total cost estimate of the project;
(viii) opinions of the commune-level People’s Committees and representatives of population communities in the place where the project is located; opinions against the project location or against environmental protection solutions must be presented in the environmental impact assessment report;
(ix) citation of sources of figures and data, assessment methods.
Procedures for Consideration and Approval of an EIAR
MONRE is responsible for establishing appraisal boards for appraisal of EIARs for projects approved by the National Assembly, the Government or the Prime Minister, and also for inter-branch or inter-provincial projects.
Ministries, ministerial equivalent bodies or Government bodies are responsible for establishing appraisal boards for appraisal of EIARs for projects within their respective decision-making authority (excluding projects under MONRE responsibility). Provincial People’s Committees or BOM of zones are responsible for establishing appraisal boards for establishing appraisal boards for appraisal of EIARs for projects located in their respective localities and within the decision-making authority of their People’s Council.
The time-limits for appraisal of strategic environmental assessment reports and EIARs are as follows: (i) a maximum of 45 working days from the date of receipt of a complete and valid application file shall apply to appraisal of projects which the appraisal councils established by MONRE; and (ii) a maximum of 30 working days from the date of receipt of a complete and valid application file shall apply to appraisal of other projects.
3. Environmental Protection Commitment
Projects subject to Environmental Protection Commitments (“EPCs”):
Any project which is not subject to strategic environment assessment reports and EIARs must make a written EPC. The main contents of an EPC are as follows:
(i) location of execution of the project;
(ii) type and scale of production, business or service and materials and fuel used;
(iii) kinds of wastes generated;
(iv) commitments to apply measures to minimize and treat wastes and strictly comply with the provisions of the laws and regulations on environmental protection.
Registration of EPCs
District People’s Committees or BOM of zone are required to organize registration of EPCs. The time limit for acceptance of EPCs is 05 working days after the date of receipt of valid EPCs. The project owners may commence production, business or service activities after registration of EPCs.