Persons applying for a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) can now submit their applications online as the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) collaborate on a new paper-free application process.
This was revealed by Environmental Programme Officers, Alicia Laurent-Wing and Arnot Jones during the EMA’s ‘Understanding the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) Process,’ held September 8th, 2020. The webinar was available to the public over the Zoom platform and was also broadcast live on Facebook.
Mrs. Laurent-Wing revealed that as of September 1st, 2020, TCPD began accepting applications through an online portal, ‘DevelopTT’ under the Automated Construction Permitting System (ACPS). This system also integrates other regulatory agencies including the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and Municipal Corporations. CEC applications for projects which do not require express planning permission, including applications for offshore activities, can now be submitted electronically to the EMA at CEC@ema.co.tt. Prior to this new system for CEC applications, persons wishing to apply for a CEC would have been required to submit three copies of the required application forms and all supporting documents.
A CEC is required prior to the establishment, modification, expansion, decommissioning, or abandonment of any project that falls under any of the 44 Activities listed in the CEC (Designated Activities) Order, 2001. If one is unsure whether their proposed project requires a CEC, they can request a pre-application meeting with the authority. However, only through the application process can the EMA determine if a CEC is required for a proposed project.
Reviews of applications for a CEC take into consideration the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed project and the proposed mitigation measures to reduce these impacts in the surrounding environment. These include impacts on air and water quality, impacts to flora and fauna and the management and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
Also covered in the webinar was a breakdown of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and an overview of legislation that governs the work of the EMA. An EIA is a tool employed in the processing of more complex CEC applications for activities that have the potential to significantly impact the environment or surrounding communities. This study allows the applicant to explore the potential significant impacts or risks associated with the proposed activity and consider a range of mitigation measures to minimise these impacts and risks to an acceptable level. The EIA process also allows for public consultation with the surrounding communities.
Of all the responsibilities held by the EMA, the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes have over the years received the most public attention, and engagement with civil society, with the most recent being a Judicial Review Action filed in the High Court by conservation group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) who are seeking full public access to all EIA reports.
The webinar was well received with the EMA team receiving more questions from the public then they could respond to within the allotted time for the question and answer segment. Participants were urged to send their unanswered questions and concerns to the EMA’s team via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fifth Webinar in this series will be held on Tuesday 27th September 2020 and will outline how permits issued by the EMA are monitored to ensure environmental compliance.