Decree 40/2019 - New Amendments To Environmental Protection Regulations In Vietnam

Decree 40/2019 amending four separate decrees on environment protection takes effect from 1 July 2019. Below are some of the key amendments introduced by Decree 40/2019:

·        The term “Industrial zones” is expanded to include all kinds of zones, such as export processing zones, high-tech zones, or industrial areas.

·        “Main works or items of a project” is the main project component specified in the feasibility study of the project.

·        List of projects subject to environmental impact assessment (EIA) is adjusted. For example, investment in a golf course is now subject to EIA. Certain projects which do not have wastewater treatment work or waste treatment work are exempted from post-construction examination. Only residential projects with capacity of 2000 (instead of 500) or more inhabitants are subject to EIA. Only hotel projects with capacity of 200 rooms (instead of 50) are subject to EIA.

·        Industrial manufacturing is classified in various sectors with different level of risks to the environment. Development of manufacturing projects with very high risks to the environment is subject to consultancy with environmental experts and scientists, and appraisal of EIA reports of these projects must be conducted by an appraisal panel.

·        The EIA report of a project must be updated in the following cases: (1) a construction project, within 24 months from the date of approval of EIA report, does not have any item executed by the project owner during the construction stage of the project as prescribed by construction law; (2) projects which have not been put into operation but have (i) expansion of scale and increase of capacity (expanding the main production lines, supplement main works and items) of the project resulting in production of waste beyond the waste treatment capacity of environment protection works; or (ii) change in production technologies of main products of the project or change in waste treatment technologies of the project which possibly causes negative environmental impact; or (iii) expansion of the investment scale of the industrial park; addition of manufacturing sectors with high risk to the environment in industrial parks which may cause pollution.

·        Changes to a project which must be notified in writing to and approved by the authorities include (1) construction projects of industrial park infrastructure with additional manufacturing sectors which are high risk to the environment; (2) expansion of scale and increase of capacity, change of technology of the manufacturing project which is less risky to the environment.

·        Registration of an environmental protection plans (EPP) apply to the following projects, among other things: (1) projects/plans for business investment, projects/plans for extension of scope or capacity of business facilities which produce wastewater from 20m3/day (24 hours) to under 500m3/day (24 hours) or solid waste from 1 tons/day (24 hours) to under 10 tons/day (24 hours) or emission from 5,000m3/hour to under 20,000m3/hour (including ongoing facility and extension). The authority to confirm the EPP registration includes specialized environmental agency (DONRE) and provincial People’s Committees. It seems that the district People’s Committee and Management Boards of an industrial zone no longer have authority to confirm the EPP registration under Decree 40/2019.

 This post is written by Le Minh Thuy and edited by Nguyen Quang Vu.