Some aspects of the realization of the public’s right to participate in strategic environmental assessment
The aim of this article is to analyse the current state of legal regulation of public participation in the strategic environmental assessment (hereinafter – SEA) procedure, to study the mechanism for exercising this right and to identify its possible shortcomings.
The article concludes that there are some problems that do not properly exercise the public’s right to participate in SEA. They are the follows: 1) the procedure of public discussion during the SEA needs to be improved in terms of informing the public; 2) the mechanism of guaranteeing and protecting the right to participate in SEA is imperfect and does not provide adequate protection in the event of a violation of this right.
On author’s opinion the list of mandatory measures, defined in the SEA legislation of Ukraine, does not fully ensure the effective informing of the public and involving it in the discussion of state planning documents. The information that really aims to engage the general public should include not only print media but also a broad social media campaign, engaging journalists in radio and television coverage. However, there is a risk that detailed regulation at the legal level of ways of informing the public in this area would lead to unjustified costs of SEA customer’s budgets.
Particular attentionin the article is paid to the study of ways of protecting the rights of the public in case of improper informing or neglect of public comments during the SEA. It is concluded that ways of protection of the investigated right may be the next: to challenge the decisions, actions or omissions of participants of the SEA process and to bring to justice for the violation of the requirements of the SEA legislation. However, The SEA Act makes no mention of such mechanisms. The Code of Administrative Offenses and the Criminal Code of Ukraine also do not contain the relevant types of offenses. The author considers this situation unacceptable and proposes to supplement the Code of Ukraine of Administrative Offenses with the relevant offenses in the field of SEA.
The article concludes that mediation is an important mechanism for resolving conflicts that may arise in the conduct of SEA. This procedure may be applied at any stage of SEA. If it is obvious that conflict will not be avoided, mediation should be applied as soon as possible. At the same time, its terms should not be too long, so as not to paralyze the development of draft state planning document.
Konventsiia pro dostup do informatsii, uchast hromadskosti v protsesi pryiniattia rishen ta dostup do pravosuddia z pytan, shcho stosuiutsia dovkillia (1998). in Ukrainian.
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