The draft law # 0078 of 3 February 2016 was supported by 233 people’s deputies of the Verkhovna Rada.
The goal of the draft law is ratification of the Protocol on launching the unified electronic system of access to information on permits, reports, inspection materials in the sphere of environmental protection for authorities and the public with the aim to ensure access of each citizen to such information and increase effectiveness of electronic governance in the sphere of environmental protection.
The system is supposed to include permits, reports, inspection materials in the sphere of environmental protection and will create the possibility for people to submit application documents for permits in electronic form as well as to operate the complex of systematic information for making environmentally important decisions. With the help of PRTR system, local and regional authorities can assess the state of local environment and use PRTR as a source of data to assess risks for human health and environment and to decrease pollution level. PRTR will help attract wide support from civil society with the aim to implement public environmental policy.
Why do we need pollution release and transfer registers?
PRTR Protocol is the first legally binding international document on pollutant release and transfer registers. Through creation of accessible for the public national PRTRs and introduction for enterprises of an obligation to regularly report on their emissions and pollutant transfer, the Protocol will stimulate decrease of pollution and boost sustainable development.
The Preamble of the Protocol says that PRTR is an effective instrument for promoting improvement of environmental indices because accountability of enterprises is increased. It ensures easy public access to qualitative information on emissions of pollutants in residential areas and pollutant transfer over territories of communities. Moreover, although PRTRs are created to meet the needs of the public, information in the registers can be used by governments to follow tendencies, demonstrate progress in decreasing emissions, control compliance with international agreements, set priorities and assess progress in implementation of environmental policy and programs. Thanks to improved management of polluters, PRTRs ensure benefits for industries as well. PRTRs combined with medical, environmental, demographic, economic and other information can be used to deepen understanding of potential problems, pinpoint “hot points”, initiate preventive measures and measures to mitigate adverse impact on setting priorities in the sphere of rational use of natural resources.
History of PRTR Protocol
The Protocol became international law binding its Parties on 8 October 2009. The first session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol was held on 20-22 April 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland, the second session on 3-4 July 2014 in Maastricht, Netherlands.
The Protocol is aimed “to enhance public access to information through the establishment of coherent, nationwide pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs).” PRTRs are inventories of pollution from industrial sites and other sources.
All UN Member States can join the Protocol, including those which have not ratified the Aarhus Convention and those which are not members of the Economic Commission for Europe. Although the period for signature of the Protocol closed on 31 December 2003, the Protocol is open for accession.
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers was adopted at an extraordinary meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention on 21 May 2003. The meeting took place in the framework of the fifth Ministerial Conference ‘Environment for Europe’, Kyiv, 21-23 May 2003. Thirty-six member States and the European Community signed the Protocol in Kyiv.
As of 31 December 2003, the following 36 States had signed the Protocol: Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In addition, the European Community had signed the Protocol. As of 7 January 2016, the Protocol has been ratified by 32 countries and the European Union.
International charitable organization “Environment-People-Law” (EPL) acts proactively and for 8 years it has been developing and improving the electronic system of environmental information for Lviv, Kyiv and Zakarpattia regions using the latest GIS technologies. The pilot model proposed by EPL is much more advanced than envisaged by the PRTR Protocol format and includes the following information:
- Permits for use of natural resources and negative impact on the environment.
- Reports about actual amounts of use of natural resources, emissions, and other negative impacts on the environment by enterprises, institutions and organizations (emissions into the air, dumping into water resources, waste management etc).
- Data of monitoring of physical and chemical environmental indices (concentrations of pollutants in environmental objects, noise and vibration levels etc).
- Environmental impact assessment (EIA) documents.
- Environmental tax information.
Because the system covers more categories that envisaged by PRTR Protocol, we called the system “PRTR+”. Launch of such a system on the national level will substantially improve access to environmental information for the public, will create a comprehensive information basis for authorities, which will considerably improve the quality of environmental decision-making and will lead Ukraine to the position of leading European countries in terms of ensuring democratic principles of transparency and access to information.
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