III. ANALYSIS OF THE TYPES OF MEASURES BEING USED AT THE SECTOR LEVEL INTEGRATE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS INTO THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES
C. Evaluation of effectiveness of each measure
The intention of EPA is to scrutinize all development proposals at the planning stage in order to prevent ill-advised and potentially damaging schemes from being implemented. The Act compels developers to conduct detailed studies (biological, social and cultural) of the environmental implications of the proposed development. The results of the studies are presented to the minister responsible and are then published for public scrutiny and debate. The final decision on the project is taken by NEC. The Act also allows developers to voluntarily submit an environmental management plan. In such cases, the findings do not have to be published or openly debated, although they may be discussed with the local residents of the development area. The report on the findings can, however, be inspected at provincial government offices. To date, most environmental plans have been of the "voluntary" type, and therefore not fully debated. That situation was viewed by many of the government officials and NGOs interviewed as a major factor limiting the effectiveness of EPA.
Another flaw in EPA is that it does not compel the incorporation of any environmental protection measures in a development scheme. The Act only recommends the consideration of environmental protection and management procedures. A decision on whether to implement any or all such schemes is left to the discretion of NEC, acting on the advice of the minister responsible for the Department of Environment and Conservation. As indicated above, such decisions, when they concern a voluntary submission, do not have to be publicly defended or debated.
As shown in figure II, the process of assessment and decision-making under EPA is very long and arduous. The process requires repeated consultations between the developer and the State, and there are strict time limits. There is also some overlap between EPA and the Mining Act. The overlaps in the regulatory systems have created a situation in which some developers often experience duplication of effort since they must seek approvals from more than one environmental regulation system. The potential exists for possible conflicts between the approval conditions imposed by the different systems. In addition, duplication of effort occurs among the various monitoring and enforcement agencies. Most senior government officials agree that there is a need for a more coherent and integrated approach to the process of environmental assessment and regulation.
At present, the local community and the private sector play a limited role in policy-making through participation in the so-called development forums. Mechanisms are thus required that ensure more meaningful and sustained involvement and participation by those groups.
A major weakness in the environmental laws of Papua New Guinea is the low penalties that they carry. The penalty for contravening EPA is a fine not exceeding K 40,000. Contravention of EPA has yet to be tested in an open court, an action which may never occur. In general, the penalty is too small to act as an effective deterrent in preventing unscrupulous developers from infringing the environmental guidelines.