1. What is an Environmental Clearance (EC), who issues EC and how long is it issued for?
EC means the decision issued in writing by the National Environment Commission Secretariat (NECS) or the Competent Authorities (CAs), to let a project proceed, which includes terms and conditions to ensure that the project is managed in an environmentally sound and sustainable way. EC is issued by either NECS or CAs based on the ‘Classification of projects/categorization of projects into color-coded categories 2020.’
The EC is issued for a maximum of 5 years. However, shorter EC periods are also accorded based on the complexity and nature of the projects.
2. What is the Environment Assessment process?
All procedures required under Bhutanese law to identify means to ensure that the activities of a project are managed in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.
3. How do I prepare my application for EC?
You can refer to the IEE or Environmental Assessment (EA) form. For guidance, refer to Environmental Assessment Guidelines, Environmental Codes of Practices, Environmental Standards, templates, guides, SOPs, and any other EA documents developed by NECS.
4. How do I know if my activity requires an EC?
Activities/projects are categorized into three color-coded categories as per the་‘Classification of projects/categorization of projects into color-coded categories, 2020’. Activities falling in the green category do not require EC, those falling in the blue category will be subjected to Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) level of assessment, and activities falling in the red category will be subjected to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) level of assessment. Any activity not falling in any of the categories will be subjected to IEE level of assessment.
For activities requiring EIA, Terms of Reference need to be endorsed by the NECS .
5. Where do I submit my application for initial EC/renewal and what are the prerequisites for my application?
You can apply to relevant CAs depending on your activity (refer to Classification of projects/categorization of projects into color-coded categories, 2020). For activities under NECS’ authority, you can apply through relevant CAs.
For new applications for EC, the following are required:
● Duly filled applicable IEE form/EA form/EIA report.
● Carry out public consultation in line with Chapter VI of the Regulation for Environmental Clearance of Projects 2016 and submit records of public consultation signed by the members of the concerned local authority present during the public consultation.
● Written consent from an individual or juristic person if activity has direct impact on a property authenticated by the concerned local authority.
● Water abstraction permits from concerned local authorities, if there is any water abstraction activity.
● Forwarding letter from the concerned CA.
● Pay an applicable application fee (Refer to Fee Schedule to cover the cost of administering Environmental Assessment Act, 2000) to the Revenue agency and submit a copy of the Revenue Money Receipt (RMR).
For renewal applications for EC, the following are required:
● Application with a copy of EC.
● Compliance report.
● Forwarding letter from the concerned CA.
Pay an applicable renewal fee (Refer to Fee Schedule to cover the cost of administering Environmental Assessment Act, 2000) to the Revenue agency and submit a copy of the Revenue Money Receipt (RMR).
6. How long does it take to get EC?
The time limits are in line with Applicable Time Limits of the Regulation for Environmental Clearance of Projects 2016. However, it depends on the submission of correct and complete information.
7. What If I don’t submit clarification/additional information/other requirements as required?
For blue category projects (IEE level of assessment), the applicant must submit required clarification/additional information/other requirements within 3 months from the date of request for additional information. For projects undergoing EIA studies (red category), the duration for submitting clarification/additional information/other requirements is one year from the date of request for additional information. If you fail to provide the clarification/additional information/other requirements within the deadline, the application shall be treated as cancelled without any compensation or refund of any fee.
8. What are the obligations after I receive the EC?
● Adhere to the requirements under other laws.
● Prepare and submit Detailed Implementation Plan after 3 months of EC issuance.
● Carry out self monitoring to ensure compliance to EC terms and conditions, Environmental Standards 2020, and other environmental norms.
● Submit monitoring reports as stipulated in the EC terms and conditions.
● Apply for renewal at least three months prior to the expiry of EC.
● Prior approval must be sought should there be modification (as described under section 26 of the RECOP 2016).
9. What are penalties/sanctions if I fail to comply with the EC terms and conditions?
Applicable fine will be imposed for late renewal of EC. For other non-compliances, appropriate administrative sanctions/penalty/revocation of EC/shut down the activity without compensation will be imposed in line with the NEPA 2007, EA Act, 2000 and RECOP 2016 depending on the magnitude, frequency and severity of offence.