The Consultation and Public Meeting of Information in the context of the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure

The Consultation and Public Meeting of Information in the context of the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure

By: Héctor Campos Carrillo



Resale right is a subject which has become increasingly relevant in the national and international legal scene, especially when we consider it within an environmental context. Thus, within the current legal framework, we can find recent references in which the possibility of citizens to influence the discussion regarding policies and projects that have a significant impact on the environment is thoroughly addressed. It should be noted that said development, it is considered, has taken place in order to accomplish direction towards the existence of an assessment process which is plural in nature, and made up of technical-scientific and social elements. Having said this, citizen participation in environmental matters becomes essential since, through the mechanisms established by law, it allows for a complete and consensual impact analysis of what the carrying out of a certain project or activity can bring about.


Environmental impact assessment

Along these same lines, within the local sphere, the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA) is the normative instrument of reference for environmental matters. Said legal body is regulating the provisions of Mexico’s Political Constitution (CPEUM) which touch on the preservation and restoration of ecological balance, as well as on environmental protection in the national territory and those areas over which the Nation exercises its sovereignty and jurisdiction. In its First Title, on Chapter IV, the Environmental Impact Assessment is regulated; whereas, in its Fifth Title, on Chapters I and II, social participation is regulated, as well as all information relevant to it.

However, as established by LGEEPA itself, the Environmental Impact Assessment is the procedure through which authority establishes the conditions that will regulate the deployment of works and activities which may cause ecological imbalance or exceed the boundaries and conditions provided in the applicable provisions in order to protect the environment and to preserve and restore ecosystems. All this, in order to avoid or minimize its negative effects on the environment. Specifically, in article 28 of the aforementioned Law, works and activities which are subject to analysis are listed, while the correlative 5th article of its Regulation on Environmental Impact (REIA) specifically regulates both the aplicable features, and the exceptions.

It is clear that this procedure is conceived from the principle of environmental precaution1, which commands to weigh the possibility of damage or risk of damage to the environment through the most complete scientific evaluation possible. Thus, in this assessment process, citizen participation becomes essential. Therefore, the conjunction of citizen participation and the fulfillment of the environmental precautionary principle can potentially allow and promote democratic, informed and inclusive decision-making processes. It is worth mentioning that the current legislation allows the described participation to be carried out —within this procedure’s framework— through a Consultation and a Public Information Meeting.


Consultation and Public Information Meeting

Under this preamble, the Public Consultation of Information, in the context of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure, is the dissemination and participation mechanism through which the interaction and exchange between the promoter of a project or activity and the members of the community where it is intended to be located, happens. Additionally, in those cases which, due to their relevance, warrant the detailed presentation and explanation regarding the environmental technical aspects of the work or activity subject to the evaluation procedure, the Ministry may order the carrying out of a Public Information Meeting, in which participants may express their concerns more precisely.

Listed below are the formal aspects which must be satisfied in both milestones, according with current legislation:

  1. Public consultation
    • Once the work or activity has gone through the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure, the Ministry will publish the request in its Ecological Gazette. For his part, the promoter must publish at his expense an extract of the project of the work or activity in a newspaper considered of wide circulation in the respective state;
    • Once integrated, the file will be available to anyone for inquiry. Subsequently, any person from the community may request the holding of a Public Consultation, which will be pondered by the Ministry.
    • Once the Public Consultation has been convened, the promoter must publish an extract of the work or activity in a widely circulated newspaper in the state where it is intended to be carried out. Similarly, it is possible to request that the Ministry makes the environmental impact statement available to the public in the state;
    • Finally, the interested parties may recommend the establishment of preventive and mitigative measures, and also issue comments or observations to the file made available. It should be noted that the Ministry will incorpoate the observations made by the interested parties to the respective file and will record, in the resolution it issues, the public consultation process carried out and the results of the observations and proposals which have been formulated in writing.
  2. Public Meeting
    • Simalrly, the Ministry may organize a Public Information Meeting (in coordination with the local authorities), if it determines it is appropriate. In order for this to happen, along with previously listed formalities, you must:
    • Issue an announcement informing the general public that a Public Information Meeting will take place. This announcement must be published in the Official Gazette and in a widely circulated newspaper prior to the date on which the meeting will take place;
    • The meeting should then be held and carried through in a single day. In the meeting, the technical-environmental aspects of the work or activity will be presented, as will the possible impacts that would be caused by its execution, and the prevention and mitigation measures that would be implemented.
    • At the end, a circumstantial act will be drawn up in which the names and addresses of the participants who have intervened formulating proposals and considerations, as well as their contents, and any reasonings, clarifications or responses of the petitioner will be recorded. Also, after the meeting has concluded and before the resolution is issued in the evaluation procedure, attendees may make written observations, which the Ministry will attach to the file.

Based on the aforementioned facts; participation rights, as well as a healthy environment, are prerogatives considered at the highest regulatory levels in our country. This means that it is through the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure that a technical-scientific assessment of the implementation and development of a project or activity is brought about which, due to its characteristics, is subject to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. For its part, Consultations and Public Meetings of Information constitute the quintessential dissemination and participation mechanisms, in the context of the aforementioned procedure.

Accordingly, it should be highlighted that, in the context of the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure, these represent the stages in which any project finds its highest degree of exposure to public opinion. This is why highly specialized advisory must be available, since it has been proven that its correct planning and deployment guarantee a wide participation of the population, which significantly facilitates its development.

The team at B+F has acquired unique experience in advising and accompanying our clients through projects of a high level of complexity. Thus, our participation has been actively reflected in the main procedures carried out in our country, always contributing added and differentiated value to what we do.