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SEPA Announces the 1st List Removed from the "Banning of New Development Projects at River-basin Level"

Vice Minister Pan Yue of SEPA told media today that 5 areas (Bayannur in Inner Mongolia, Zhoukou City of Henan Province, Weinan City of Shaanxi Province, Xiangfen County of Shanxi Province and Wuhu Economic Development Zone of Anhui Province) subject to "banning of new development projects at river basin level due to full environmental load" now basically meet relevant environmental protection requirements after serious streamlining activities. And SEPA decided to release the banning from today. Other 8 cities, counties or development zones (parks) including Bengfu City, Chaohu City, Baiyin City, Hejin City, Lanzhou High and New Technology Development Zone, Puyang Economic Development Zone in Henan Province, Xin County Industrial Park in Shandong Province and Hnadan Economic Development Zone subject to the banning will remain on the list as their streamlining activities not in place.

Vice Minister Pan Yue said, SEPA will organize forces to carry out follow-up supervision on the above mentioned 5 areas. That is, the authority will conduct random inspections to see if the enterprises in the area honor their environmental commitments to prevent the rebound of pollution. The areas still under the banning must make more efforts in streamlining in accordance with the 7 requirements of SEPA. SEPA will not remove the ban until these areas meet relevant requirements.   

Vice Minister Pan Yue said, in early July of 2007, SEPA decided the "banning of new development projects at river basin level due to full environmental load" in 6 cities, 2 counties and 5 industries parks (zones) in the Yellow River basin, Huaihe River basin, Haihe River basin and Anhui section of the Yangtze River with heavy water pollution. That is, SEPA will temporarily ban any EIA approval of all new development projects except pollution control and circular economy projects. It also put 38 enterprises with heavy pollution on the "supervision list". Over the past 2 months, a total of 1,162 enterprises and projects in violation of relevant environmental laws across China have been sorted out. Among them, 400 have been closed down, 249 have stopped operation for streamlining, 102 have been ordered to make corrections in a given period of time with a total of 725 million yuan discharge fee recovered. 19 additional environmental law enforcement supervision institutions have been set up.

Vice Minister Pan said, during the streamlining activities, the above 5 areas (removing from the banning list) combined energy saving and emission reduction with industrial restructuring and produced far-reaching significance to the environmental protection work in the region. For example, targeting on high energy consumption industries and metallurgy, paper making and mineral processing industries, Bayannur Municipal Government has identified 15 correction items, banned and closed down 66 construction projects commencing construction without getting the approval or violating industrial policy including the Zhongjian Metallurgy Company project in Urad Front Banner and nullified 28 relevant local policies. Zhoukou Municipal Government has taken such measures as close down, stopping operation to make corrections, making corrections in a given period of time and putting onto black list against 76 key enterprises that discharge pollutants in violation of relevant law. It has streamlined 62 local policies violating national environmental protection laws & regulations and removed the plate of 174 enterprises which indicates they are under "local protection". In Weinan City, the authority has streamlined all paper making enterprises in the Weihe River basin. 4 chemical enterprises not meeting the emission standard were ordered to stop operation for pollution control. 2 lag-behind chemical pulp production lines were closed down and 13 local documents in violation of national laws & regulations were streamlined. Xiangfen County in Shanxi Province has shut down and phased out 80 heavy polluting enterprises such as small coal washing, small mineral dressing plants, small chemical plants and small recycling paper projects. It has phased out lag-behind productivity with total asset value of over 2 billion yuan in the field of coking, cast iron, coal washing and mineral concentrates ahead of the schedule.

Vice Minister Pan said, the above 5 areas have launched planning EIA for urban development and watershed development according to the requirements of SEPA and based on environmental carrying capacity of the watershed. Among them, it is expected that Bayannur City will finish the planning EIA for urban development by the end of 2007 and 3 industrial parks (zones) at province level will finish the planning EIA for industrial parks by the end of September. Combined with streamlining of Wuhu Economic and Technological Development Zone, Wuhu Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau entrusted the China Research Academy of Environmental Sciences to develop the Report of Wuhu on EIA of Urban Plan. It is planned that the report will be completed in 6 months and passed the review. Vice Minister Pan expressed his hope that planning EIA will produce major influence on the industrial and construction layout of these cities in the future and fundamentally curb the continuous worsening of the pollution situation.

Vice Minister Pan finally said, at present we are facing very grave environmental situation. During this round of "banning of new development projects at river basin level due to full environmental load", relevant local governments have paid high attention with prompt corrections, this is a good thing. However, this kind of banning after all is a special administrative means and affected areas taking part only a very small portion of all cities and counties in China. To address the problem in a big picture, we need conventional and systematic institutions including planning EIA and environment economic policies. SEPA will carry out unremitting exploration in institutional development and strive for the development of a complete social system that is environment-friendly.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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