Independent appointment of EIA consultants by the authority

By:

Lim Chee Han

Affiliations:

Agora Society Malaysia

Policy Code:

3j Environment

Problem Statement:

The practice of the project proponent appointing the EIA consultant leads to a conflict of interest which tends to favour the developer. There is often a lack of project oversight, monitoring of compliance and mitigation measures, and follow up after the EIA report is approved. This enables the project proponent to take advantage of the weaknesses in the process and to evade their responsibility. This results in negative environmental impacts to affected communities and the ecosystem itself. The EIA report may even be used to ‘green-wash’ projects.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Proper, competent, professional, impartial, and independent EIA consultants should be counted on to objectively evaluate the environmental impacts of certain project.

Proposal of Solution:

The project proponents should be asked to set aside and contribute a certain amount of funds for EIA purposes to a central consolidated account. The Environment Department will act on behalf of the project proponent and hire the most suitable candidate in their own best judgment and discretion. Hence, this could address and remove the paymaster’s intrinsic conflict of interest and biases imposed on the EIA consultants. In this way, the EIA consultants should be able to operate more independently. The EIA should be conducted by an independent EIA consultant prior to submission officially for site application, and the EIA report should be used as one of the most important and immediate sources of references for project evaluation. Current practice of EIA to the authorities imply that the site is awarded to the project proponent for the proposed activity.

Translation

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