Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) & Thailand Condominiums

THAILAND REAL ESTATE & CONVEYANCING

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS & THAILAND CONDOMINIUMS

Fundamental Significance -

Condominium units of Condominiums without EIA Approval cannot be transferred  to purchasers / buyers.

Some Statistics

January – October, 2012: 301 Condominium projects proposed but only 98 EIA-approved

Condominiums are an ever important development: 200,000 units purchased in 5 past years

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(Introduction) ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT & THAI PROPERTY

The Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA“) is essentially an assessment of the gravity of both potential positive and negative impacts of a development project. These potential environmental impacts are measured and precautionary steps are taken in accordance. The EIA is often referred to as an “analysis of the potential impacts, both positive and negative, of different types of projects or activities on the environment, conditions or circumstances that may affect those projects or activities, and in light thereof – measures for prevention, control and rectification before commencement of the projects or activities.”

Development projects require EIA reports pursuant to Section 46 and Section 51 of the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act B.E. 2535 (A.D. 1992).

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PROJECTS REQUIRING EIA

The very recent Notification of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, 2012 lays out a list of projects / businesses that require EIA, and the time / event for submission of the EIA report. Asides from projects / businesses of public service, state or private enterprises requiring the Cabinet’s resolution and such projects / businesses of public service and state enterprise that do not require Cabinet’s resolution, for projects / business requiring the public service’s approval – the Notification sets out a list of 35 categories of industries that require an EIA, the ones highlighted for our purposes being:

  • Annex A, Notification of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, 2012

27.   Buildings according to the Building Control Act which are:

Buildings which are 23 meters or taller and/or have an area of 10,000 square meters or more, and

         27.1   located in an area beside the river, lake, beach or close to or in a national park or historical park

27.2   used for a retail and/or wholesale businesses

27.3   used as an office building

28.   Land development for residential or commercial purposes in accordance with Land Development Law of 500 land plots and above or with an area exceeding 100 rai

30.   Hotels according to the Hotel Act having 80 rooms or more or have a usable area of 4,000 square meters or more

31.   Residential building (Condominiums) according to the Building Control Act

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EIA REQUIREMENT

Encompassed in Section 49, which mandates that permission to proceed with the project / development / business be withheld by the relevant authorities until EIA approval is obtained.

Subsequent to application, a Consultant registered with the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (“ONEP”) must be requested to prepare the EIA which will then submit the same to the latter which will evaluate the EIA report and therefrom lodge the same for evaluation by a ‘committee of experts’ (Expert Review Committee).

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PRE-EIA

Screening

Screening is the determination of whether an EIA is needed, taking into account the magnitude of potential environmental impacts. In Thailand, the lists of projects / activities issued from time to time under the Act is the preliminary screening filter used to identify projects / activities requiring EIAs.

Scoping

Scoping is the focusing of the EIA to the significant issues and the identification of the potential impacts requiring assessment.

Public Participation

Public Participation is a significant criterion of the EIA, throughout its process enabling Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and relevant agencies that would be potentially affected by the projects / agencies to render their comments and/or experiences which will be duly considered in project development and evaluation.

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EIA CONSTITUTION

The EIA has to comprise of the following information:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY containing the following information:

  • Type and size of project including all related activities
  • Project site with photos and map of site showing environmental surroundings which may be affected by project. Map scale of 1:50,000 or as appropriate
  • Alternative options of project site and project implementation methodology (reasons and justifications)
    Report describing important impacts to environment, mitigation and monitoring measures in compliance with Form Sor Por 1

MAIN REPORT containing the following:

  • Introduction containing background, objective and justification of the project including objectives, scopes and methodology of the EIA Report
  • Site of the projects presenting photo and map of the site showing environmental surroundings which may be affected from the project. Map scale of 1: 50,000
  • Project details providing a clear overview of the project such as type and size of the project, project implementation methodology, or related activities, as well as a layout of the project’s land utilization shown in appropriate scale and direction
  • Present environmental conditions with details and photos of natural resources and environment in both physical and biological aspects, classified with capacity for rehabilitation or lack of capacity therefor; human use value; quality of life; as well as describing current problems around the site together supplemented with photos of surrounding area; utilization of land around the site and other areas that may be affected from the project in the short term and long term.
  • Evaluation of alternative options for implementation of the project and evaluation of the impact that may be caused by the project
    • Alternative options for implementation of the project – the EIA shall describe such alternative options, which may be an option in terms of an alternative site for the project or the methodology of project implementation. Every proposed option shall be in line with the objective and shall give reasons addressed to the project’s goal and necessity of the project’s existence. Mitigating measures shall be proposed under each option and the most suitable option and justification of the project shall be identified.
    • Evaluation of environmental impact – evaluation of both the direct and indirect environmental impact to natural resources and the environment and to all such factors mentioned in 2.4, classified with capacity for rehabilitation or lack of capacity therefor. Similarly, such evaluation shall also be conducted for each proposed alternative
    • Mitigating and compensatory measures  – details of such mitigation and compensatory measures for such impact considered in 2.5

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EIA HEADINGS / ASPECTS

EIA Reports are composed under 5 headings / aspects.

  1. Project description
  2. Existing Environmental Conditions
  3. Environmental Impact Assessments
  4. Mitigating / Prevention Measures
  5. Monitoring Programs

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EIA FOR CONDOMINIUMS

As tailored for Condominiums, EIA for Condominium Projects / Developments cover the following, inter alia:

  • Physical impacts (e.g. overshadowing of nearby building)
  • Biological impacts (e.g. effect on airflow and direction of wind)
  • Human-use value (e.g. the provision of parking lots and common areas)
  • Impacts on quality of life to local residents (e.g. pollution caused during construction)

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REGULATORY LEGISLATION FOR CONDOMINIUM PROJECTS / DEVELOPMENTS

  • City Plan Act
  • Building Control Act
  • Environmental Quality Protection and Promotion Act

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EIA AIMS

  • Classification, prediction and estimation of environmental impacts as compared to existing environmental conditions (before and after).
  • Implement preventive & mitigating measures at an initial planning phase toward contributing to the reduction of the cost of rectifying environmental rehabilitation at the later date in the name of sustainable development.
  • Surface environmental considerations into decision-making and project planning.
  • EIA is based on study of environmental impacts of activity in the project and its surrounding areas in interaction with living, non-living organisms and the environment in both the short and long-term.

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EIA METHODOLOGY

  • Data from flora, fauna, soil, water, air, human health and employment will be gathered and studied. These factors and criterion vary according to type of project / activity and location.
  • The EIA is essentially a technical assessment, based on theoretical gauge of foreseeable environmental change, capturing the impacts of the project / activity on the environment & natural resources.
  • Mitigating, Preventive & Corrective measures should be recommended to contra the environmental impacts along with appropriate methods to monitor the condition of the affected environment.
  • Alternatives need be offered for consideration such as alternative implementation methodology and alternative sites complemented with comparative studies on project investment and financial return to subsist such measures.

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EIA PROCESS FLOWCHART

Please click on image to see larger and clearer image:

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For more information on the foregoing, please contact the author JOEL LOO SEAN EE, the Bangkok-based Senior Regional Counsel at Kelvin Chia Thailand and a member of Kelvin Chia Partnership’s Regional Practice Group at Joel.Loo@KCPartnership.com.

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This article is published to provide general information only and is not offered as specific advice on any particular matter – This information is to be taken subject to proper consultation with a lawyer.

All written material on BANGKOK LEGAL BLOG including this post are the Copyright of Joel Loo Sean Ee. Any attempt to plagiarize or reproduce these materials in whole or in part, in verbatim or in paraphrase, or in any other form that it can be conceivable that such attempt is being made is an offense in law and will be an invitation by offenders to face charges and prosecution in a Court of Law.

 

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