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Negotiations over dangerous environmental draft law



A meeting was held in parliament on 19 June regarding changes to a draft law which all Ukrainian environmental groups are agreed would spell disaster for any real environmental protection in the country.  The meeting was chaired by the author of the bill, MP and the President’s representative in the Verkhovna Rada, Yury Myroshnychenko. 19 June was also the last chance for proposing amendments to that draft bill and six others which are claimed to be aimed at putting through “administrative reforms”, first set out in late 2010 though a  Presidential decree.

There were representatives of various civic or religious organizations, public bodies who are concerned to ensure that dangerous amendments are not introduced.

Unfortunately, like at the previous meeting, environmental NGOs were present, but were unable to do much about one of the most worrying proposals in the bill since representatives of the Environment Ministry and the State Environmental Impact Inspectorate were conspicuous by their absence. 

The planned dissolution of territorial departments of the Environment Ministry with powers to carry out environmental impact assessments, issue permits, etc, being redistributed mainly to the local administrations.  As reported here, there are numerous examples of local administrations taking decisions which are disastrous for the environment. A case in point was the destruction of a part of Kharkiv’s Gorky Forest-Park where the local Department for the Environment had, together with civic organizations, been on the side of the law, which the Kharkiv city authorities continued to flout with impunity.

While there are plenty of grounds for criticizing the territorial environmental bodies, dissolving them is a dangerous and irresponsible step.  Even if we ignore (at our peril) the greater scope for corruption and bad political moves from local administrations and the Cabinet of Ministers, transfer of powers which require specialist knowledge from specialized departments to local and central authorities must at very least place the quality of decisions taken in question.

The problem is that civic organizations are fully prepared to stand up for territorial departments, but cannot entirely wage the Ministry’s fight for it.

Some concessions were made – with Oleh Listopad representing the position of environmental NGOs.

- issues regarding the Red Book, forest logging and burning areas were agreed;

- NGO’s amendments were introduced regarding State environmental impact assessment bodies and their drawing up protocols;

-  no consensus was reached regarding civic environmental impact inspectors, nor on the proposal to give them the right to draw up protocols.  The forestry people present supported the NGOs with regard to both State and civic environmental impact assessments.

Asked when the package of bills was likely to be passed, Myroshnychenko said that he didn’t know but that administrative reform was impact and might be before the parliamentary elections.

See Legislative Slight of Hand and the links beneath for more information about seriously disturbing legislative plans

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