Public could be included in development of environmental policies

For the first time, the public could be invited to become involved in the development of EU-wide plans and programmes on environmental issues such as air quality, hazardous waste, packaging, landfill, and the protection of waters against nitrate pollution.

A proposal for a directive on public participation is being supported by the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy Committee, the committee has announced, with a public debate on the matter scheduled for 22 October.

In order to enable the public to become involved, the draft resolution suggests that information must be made available to people in a reasonable time frame, to give them the chance to express their comments and opinions. When decisions are made, the public’s views would then be taken into account, giving legitimacy to the proposal, says the committee.

However, the committee is also proposing a number of amendments to the proposal, one of which calls for Community legislation that requires member states to solicit public participation in producing their own environment plans and programmes. Also within the amendments is the suggestion that groups or individual members of the public involved should be entitled to submit their comments and opinions in writing or at a public hearing before a decision is taken.

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