10 Frequently Asked Questions regarding Obtaining an EIA Approval in Nigeria. In line with the EIA Decree 86 of 1992 now known as EIA ACT CAP E12, LFN 2004, The Federal Ministry of Environment Nigeria Through the Department of Environmental Assessment is charged with the responsibility of Certifying and Approving EIA reports of major developmental projects across all sectors in Nigeria.
The Ministry was created in 1999 to ensure effective coordination of all environmental matters, which hitherto were fragmented and resident in different line Ministries.
We intend to beam our searchlights into some frequently asked questions regarding obtaining an EIA approval in Nigeria.
1. WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA)?
EIA is often defined as:
- A process used in the integrated planning of development proposals, policies and programs or;
- An activity which identifies, predicts, interprets and communicates information and proposes ameliorative measures, about impacts of a proposed action or development proposal on human health and the well-being of the ecosystem upon which human survival depends.
- EIA should be considered as an aid to improve the decision making process as it seeks public opinion and external knowledge in order to ensure a maximum degree of fairness and balance in the final decision.
2. WHAT CATEGORY OF PROJECT QUALIFY FOR EIA STUDY?
- The EIA Act (1992) recognized That For a Number of Reasons, The EIA Process May Not Necessarily be Applied in all Development Projects. The Procedural Guidelines Detail The Stages Of The EIA Process, Including The Categorization of Projects Into i, ii And iii. Category I Projects Are Those That Require Full EIA Study While Category ii Are Those That May Not Require Full EIA Depending On The Screening Criteria. Category iii Projects Are Those That Do Not Require EIA And For Which An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) And Certificate Shall Be Issued.
- The EIA Act Exempts or Excludes Certain Projects From The Full EIA Such Projects Include: –
- Those Which, In The Opinion Of The Act (i.e) The Federal Ministry Of Environment, Is In The List Of Projects, Which The President, Is Of The View That Their Environmental Effects Are Likely To Be Minimal
- Projects To Be Carried Out During National Emergency, For Which Temporary Measures Have Been Taken By The Government
- Projects To Be Carried Out In Response To Circumstances That, In The Opinion Of The Federal Ministry Of Environment Is in The Interest Of Public Health Or Safety.
3. WHO CARRIES OUT AN EIA STUDY?
- The Ministry have a list of accredited Environmental Consultants that Conducts a comprehensive EIA study under the supervision of the Ministry and submit the Draft Report to the Ministry for review and approval considerations.
4. WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE EIA APPROVAL PROCESS?
In summary, the EIA procedure in Nigeria involves the following steps:
- The submission of project proposal to The Federal Ministry of Environment for screening to determine the need or otherwise for EIA Studies.
- The vetting of Terms of Reference (ToR) for the EIA studies to ensure that only significant issues (impacts) are studies in the EIA. A Site Verification exercise and Scoping workshop may be required to aid this process.
- Submission of the Draft EIA Report for review.
- Review of the Draft EIA Report
- Submission of the Final EIA Report , which addresses all the issues, raised from the review exercise
- Decision-making by the Federal Ministry of Environment’s Technical Committee and the Hon. Minister.
- EIA Approval and Certification
- Impact Mitigation and Compliance monitoring exercise to ensure compliance with all stipulated mitigation measures and project specifications in he projects EIA report.
5. WHAT DO THE EIA STUDY COVER?
- EIA study and report preparation are the responsibilities of the Project Proponent. In the course of preparing an EIA Report of a proposed project, both the primary and secondary stakeholders would be consulted.
- The objective of such consultation is to identify early in the EIA process, the concerns of stakeholders regarding the impacts of the proposed project in order to address such issues during the actual study and to reflect such comments in the project’s EIA report.
- An approved Terms of Reference and Scoping Workshop report contains the sampling design for each study specifying the parameters to be studied, sampling map and environmental component to be studied. Amongst other important information.
6. IS THERE AN IN-HOUSE REVIEW FOR SUBMITTED REPORTS?
- All draft EIA reports forwarded to the Ministry are first of all reviewed in-house to assess how far issues raised in the Terms of Reference (TOR) and Scoping workshop have been addressed and to determine if the draft EIA reports are suitable for public review (if necessary).
- If an in-house review finds that the issues in the report do not merit putting it on public display, the review process may be terminated at the in-house review stage. Some projects (e.g. those that fall under Category III of the EIA Act) may be recommended for approval by the Ministry’s In-House Panel of Experts.
7. WHAT IS PUBLIC DISPLAY EXERCISE?
- Section 25 of the EIA Act, gives the opportunity for the public to participate in the EIA review process through comments on project reports that are put on display for a 21 working days.
- Notices of such venues of display are usually published in the National and relevant State daily newspapers and information about such display are complemented with further announcements on the relevant state electronic media.
- Venues of displays include the Local Government Headquarters, where a project is located, the State Ministry of Environment, The Federal Ministry of Environment’s Zonal Offices and the Headquarters, Abuja.
- Comments received from the display venues are forwarded to The Federal Ministry of Environment Headquarters for collation and evaluation preparatory to the Review Panel meeting, for the project.
8. WHAT IS A PANEL REVIEW EXERCISE?
- After the conclusion of the public display exercise, The Federal Ministry of Environment may decide to set up a review panel to review the draft EIA report depending on the sensitivity or significance of the comments received.
- The review panel meetings are held in the public so that stakeholders can utilize this opportunity to put forward their views and concerns for consideration.
- The choice of members of the review panel depends on the type of project, its scope as well as the ecosystem to be affected.
- The Chairman of the affected local government(s) and the Commissioner of Environment of the project location are always included in the Panel.
9. WHAT IS MEDIATION?
- When a project is likely to cause significant adverse effects that are immitigable, or public concerns about the project warrant it, such a project is referred to the Federal Ministry of Environment Ministerial Council for subsequent referral to mediation. For a mediation to be set up, Ministerial Council would have been convinced that the parties involved are willing to participate in the mediation and to abide by its decisions.
10. WHEN CAN AN EIA APPROVAL BE ISSUED?
- After the submission of a satisfactory Final EIA report, the Federal Ministry of Environment may decide to set a number of conditions for the approval of the implementation of the project. Such conditions usually include a statement that mitigation measures highlighted in the projects EIA report shall be complied with. This are conveyed in the EIA Approval Letter.