Updated to: 27 June 2011Download as PDF
Ministry of The Environment and Natural Resources
Address: Km 12 ½ carretera norte frente a zona franca
Apdo 5123 Managua, Nicaragua
Tel.: (505) 22 63 26 20
Web Page: http://www.marena.gob.ni
History of ESIA
The System of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) started with the approval of The Regulations for Permits and Environmental Impact Assessment (RPEIA) in 1994. Curiously, these regulations came previous to the creation of The General Law of Environment and Natural Resources in 1996. When this Law was created, it respected and incorporated the Regulations for Permits and Environmental Impact Assessment (RPEIA) of 1994, and considered it to be one of the instruments of environmental management. It also created a new milestone with respect to the environment, as before this General Law environment was not considered in sectoral law from an integrated point of view. In addition , the law determined the decentralization for Environmental Impact Assessment to the Autonomous Regions on The Atlantic Coast dividing it into The North Atlantic and The South Atlantic Regions.
After 10 years in operation, the first regulation was overthrown in 2006 by creating a new Regulation that took into account for the first time, a “System for Environmental Assessment” which takes into account everything concerning the procedures for EIA.
Law No. 217: General Law of Environment and Natural Resources in 1996.
National detailed regulation for ESIA
The executive decree 76-2006
In accordance with the Executive Decree 76-2006, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources in Nicaragua (MARENA) gives priority to the following Guidelines, even though they have not been approved yet:
- Guidelines for site inspection and criteria for technical supervision of the EIA.
- General guidelines for preparing Terms of reference for strategic Environmental Assessment and project Environmental Impact Assessment, according to their category.
- Guidelines for review and assessment of an Environmental Impact Study.
- Guidelines for construction (for low and moderate environmental impact).
Also, at a Central American level, Guidelines for technical review and assessment of environmental Impact for mining, energy and tourism are in the development stages.
Exemptions from ESIA application
As stipulated in Article 12, in the Regulation on the EIA, for reasons of a force majeure or an act of God, such as projects formulated to mitigate disasters or projects of national interest or national security that would give answers to a national emergency situation and could be classified into one of the environmental categories, The Ministry of Environment, along with the local government councils can dictate an exemption to the requirement of a Environmental Impact Study and can issue an emergency permit for a project or activity that would normally require an Environmental Impact Study or an Environmental Assessment, previous to a written request from The National System of Prevention and Mitigation of Disasters, from their executive secretary or Defense Minister, which ever the case may be.
Scope of ESIA application
As stipulated in the Environmental law, an environmental permit is required for all projects, works, industries or any other activity that for its characteristics can affect or deteriorate the environment or any of the natural resources.
Any public or private activity, work or project of national or foreign investment, during its pre-investment phase, execution, expansion, rehabilitation, or reconstruction, will be subject to the realization of all the necessary impact studies and assessments on the environment, as a requirement for the granting of its respective permit.
Central ESIA authority
The Environmental Impact Assessment system is administered by the Central office of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) under the General Office of Environmental Quality.
The General Office of Environmental Quality (DGCA) should comply with all the functions that were assigned in the Presidential decree 76-2006, concerning Environmental Assessment, among which:
- Establish the national registry of environmental assessment including registration of environmental consultants.
- To promote, assess and train in the different governmental sectors of the country in the application SEA and elaborate instruments for the formulation and execution of plans and programs for environmental management.
- To facilitate the coordination of relationships between the different Environmental Management Units of the government on both sectorial and municipal levels including entities that do not have mandates on this subject.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in ESIA, and their roles
- Environmental Sectorial Units (from the different ministries). Consulted during the decision making stage of the projects in categories I and II, along with other functions as members of the inter-institutional commission (see functions of these).
- Territorial Representatives of MARENA. Consulted during the decision making stage of the project in categories I and II, along with other functions as members of the inter-institutional commission (see functions of these).
- Municipal Governments.
- Regional Council in the autonomous Regions. Consulted during the decision making stage of the project in categories I and II, along with other functions as members of the inter-institutional commission. (See functions of these). These can also dictate an exemption to the requirement of an Environmental Impact Study as stipulated in Article 12, in the Regulation on the EIA.
- Inter-institutional commissions for Environmental Assessment. Made up of representatives of the different Environmental Administrative Units of autonomous entities, Municipal Governments, SERENA, Universities, Territorial Representatives of MARENA. The functions of this commission is stipulated in Article 11, in the EIA Regulation:
- Give support to MARENA or SERENA in the elaboration of the corresponding Terms of reference to be used.
- Participate in consultant meetings with the project promoter and his interdisciplinary team of professionals selected by him to elaborate the Environmental Impact Study.
- Participate and dictate criteria after reviewing the documentation and information that is required for an environmental Assessment.
- Participate in the team that makes the field trips that are programmed.
- Provide the necessary supplies or support for the environmental feasibility study that MARENA or SERENA dictates.
- Participate in the final revision on the technical solutions and offer support on the administrative resolution for granting or not granting the environmental permit.
(De)centralisation of ESIA mandates
Nicaragua has two autonomous regions in the Caribbean, The North Atlantic Coast Autonomous Region and The South Atlantic Coast Autonomous Region. For these two territories, the EIA system is administrated by its associated Regional Council. As stipulated in the Presidential decree No. 36-2002, denominated “For the Administration of a Permit System and Environmental Impact Assessment on the Autonomous Regions of The Atlantic Coast” an administrative process was established for each Autonomous Regional Council in The Administration System for granting permits and for Assessment on the Environmental Impact, to be used for granting environmental permits in these regions.
It is required to fill out and submit an environmental form to assess all Projects, Works, Activities, and Industries and as stipulated in the presidential decree 76-2006. All projects will be clasified into three main categories:
- CATEGORY I - These are considered to be special projects for their national, bi-national or regional importance and their related high impact on the economy, social activity and the environment and are therefore subject to an Environmental Impact Study.
- CATEGORY II - All works, projects, industries and activities considered in this Environmental Category II can cause a potential high impact on the environment and are subject to an Environmental Impact Study.
- CATEGORY III - This category relates to projects that can cause a moderate amount of environmental impact, even though they can generate accumulative effects for which they require an environmental assessment as a condition for granting a corresponding environmental authorization.
Projects of low environmental impact potential are regulated by Article 25 of the General Law on the Environment and Natural Resources, their promoters should fill out and present a environmental application form to the corresponding municipal authorities for their respective permission depending on the established procedure. These are not subject to an Environmental Impact Study.
As stipulated in Article 106, in the Environmental Law the renewable and non renewable Natural resources in legally protected areas, will not be subject to exploration and exploitation. This is complemented in the Regulation for mining projects of Category II, which states that “ Non metallic mining is not permitted in the protected areas within the National System of Protected Areas”.
Contents of the starting document
• GENERAL DATA
• LOCATION OF THE PROJECT
• DATA ABOUT THE PROJECT
• SERVICES DEMANDED BY THE PROJECT
• ENERGY DEMANDED BY THE THE PROJECT
Not defined at the screening stage but at general level per category
Not defined. Internal procedures have not been published.
It concerns an internal procedure.
Contents of the EIA report
In 2008, the EIA-Central America Project made a model together with the environmental authorities of the region. This model has not been made official yet.
It concerns an internal procedure.
Inter-institutional commissions for Environmental Assessment. Made up of representatives of the different Environmental Management Units of autonomous entities, Municipal Governments, SERENA, Universities, Territorial Representatives of MARENA. The functions of this commission are stipulated in Article 11, in the EIA Regulation.
- Category I- MARENA has a minimum term of one hundred and twenty working days to a maximum term of two hundred forty working days for its technical review and to grant its corresponding resolution for the projects of environmental category I. This term can be interrupted by way of a notification until the required information is completed.
- Category II- MARENA and the regional councils of the autonomous regions have a maximum term of ten working days to review the preliminary documents received for the projects in environmental category II and, in case of the need for more information, this will be required in accordance with the ToR. Upon reception of this additional information, the ten working day term will be reinstated. Furthermore, MARENA and the regional councils of the autonomous regions have a maximum term of one hundred and twenty working days for its technical review and to grant the corresponding resolution for the projects of environmental category II. This term can be interrupted by way of a notification until the required information is completed.
- Category III- There is a maximum term of thirty working days for its technical review and to grant the corresponding resolution for the projects of environmental category III.
Integration of ESIA into decision-making
The information presented is to analyze the granting or not of the environmental permit.
Environmental Permit. This is an administrative act that the competitive authority dictates, part of a petition, according to the type of activity, that certifies, from the environmental protection point of view that the activity can be carried out taking into account the conditional rules established in the permit.
The environmental permit should include, the causes for a simple right of repeal, the conditions and manner of responsibility as well as an environmental management program. The conditions that were generated by the environmental assessment should be obligatorily met to comply with the proposal.
The environmental permits granted for a work, project, industry or activity should be an object of transfer of rights before the authorization of MARENA or of the autonomous regional government in the case of the Autonomous Regions. The owner of the rights assumes all obligations in the environmental permit, subject to an on-site inspection verifying that the activities to be done are the same as the ones that are stipulated in the environmental permit.
The time period for the decision making corresponds to the time for review. Only in the case of Category II the MARENA and in the autonomous regions the regional councils have a maximum term of one hundred and twenty working days for the technical review and to grant the corresponding resolution for the projects of environmental category II. This term can be interrupted by way of a notification until the required information is completed.
Public participation requirements for ESIA process stages
The System for Environmental Assessment considers that the informed public should participate at all levels. In the autonomous regions the project should be developed taking into account the customs and traditions of the general public.
As stipulated in Article 33, in the presidential decree 76-2006 the MARENA should establish special norms that regulate public consultation in the procedures of the environmental assessment based on the following guiding principals:
- The principal of proactive inclusion, in which all public persons and decision makers are involved in the process;
- The principal of shared responsibility, where the State and the general public unite forces in a strategic alliance to prevent and alleviate a negative impact on the environment by agreeing on joint decisions.
Possibilities for appeal
Appeal possible to administrative court
Central ESIA database
A registry exists but it is not accessible for the public.
- Environmental Unit in the Ministry of Transporte and Infrastructure.
- Work Group for Central America on Environmental Impact Assessment