The amended Environmental Protection Law, which will be implemented from 1 January 2015, sets some hard provisions to improve environmental protection systems, and the intensity of pursuit of liability for violations and of punishments will reach an unprecedented level. The new law is being dubbed the “strictest environmental protection law in history”.
Environmental impact assessment
The environmental impact assessment system is an important manifestation of the principle of “taking prevention as principal, and combining prevention and treatment” in China’s environmental protection law sector and a core environmental protection system in China. The new law intensifies the punishment for violations, specifying that if an owner fails to submit an assessment document for its construction project, or if it commences construction without approval of the document, the environmental protection authority may, in addition to ordering it to halt construction and assessing a fine, order it to restore the site to its original state. This new provision signifies that an enterprise will be required to remove a project which has already commenced construction, imposing a heavy cost for violating the law.
Furthermore, addressing fraud in the environmental impact assessment sector, the new law specifies that if an assessment firm commits fraud in relevant environmental service activities, it will be liable for the environmental contamination and ecological damage caused, and in addition to being punished according to relevant regulations, it will bear joint and several liability with other parties responsible for causing the environmental contamination and ecological damage. This directly boosts the requirement that environmental impact assessment firms be rigorous in performing their duties, making fraud much more costly.
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Wang Jihong is the executive partner and Shi Jie is a partner at Grandway Law Offices
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