Environment Law: Obligations and Prohibitions

Law No. 7 of 2022 promulgating the Environment Law (the “Environment Law”) was issued with the aim of protecting the environment from all activities and practices that pollute or degrade the environment. Preventing pollution and combating environmental deterioration in all its forms (land, air, marine and sound) are principles embodied in the provisions of the Environment Law, through which Bahrain seeks to protect biodiversity and fulfil the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Since environmental protection is a collective effort, the Environment Law is applicable to all public and private entities in addition to individuals in Bahrain, with the exception of the Bahrain Defense Force, the Ministry of Interior and the National Guard.

This article will briefly outline the obligations and prohibitions stipulated under the Environment Law that may significantly impact entities and individuals.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Generally, any activity that pollutes the environment, contributes to its deterioration or causes damage to natural resources or living organisms is prohibited in Bahrain. This is monitored by the Supreme Council for Environment (“SCE”), the competent authority empowered to protect the environment and achieve sustainable development in the Kingdom.

The SCE sets the standards, specifications, foundations and controls necessary to evaluate the environmental impact of projects to ensure that all projects do not negatively impact the environment in any form. An environmental impact assessment is conducted by the SCE prior to the implementation, modification, or expansion of any project by an entity.

The said entity must submit an Environmental Impact Assessment Data Form to the SCE prior to obtaining any licenses or initiating the project, thereafter the SCE will determine whether a detailed report is required to grant the license.

Monitoring Waste

Subsequent to the environmental impact assessment conducted by the SCE, all project owners must comply with certain obligations that enable the SCE to accurately monitor the performance of project owners and their waste management. In accordance with the controls and procedures set out by the SCE, project owners must:

  • conduct periodic analysis of the project’s waste;
  • monitor the discharge and pollutants resulting from the project; and
  • record data and submit reports to the SCE.

Reporting Incidents

The Environment Law obliges all concerned entities and individuals to immediately report any kind of pollution incident. This reporting obligation extends to entities and individuals not responsible for the incident.

In the event that an incident of pollution to the marine environment occurs, such as an oil leak, the SCE must be immediately notified with an indication of the circumstance of the accident, the type of leaked material and the measures taken to stop or limit the leak.

General Prohibitions

The prohibitions stipulated under the Environment Law concern all possible forms of pollution, some of which are listed below:

  1. All marine means are prohibited from dumping garbage or discharging sewage water, oil, hazardous waste or polluting materials into the marine environment of Bahrain. International treaties ratified by Bahrain and national implementing regulations that regulate the conservation of marine life must be taken into account by the concerned entities and individuals.
  2. All entities such as commercial or industrial projects are prohibited from conducting any activity that may cause pollution or deterioration of the costal or marine environment.
  3. All entities are prohibited from emitting or leaking air pollutants beyond the permissible limits stipulated under the laws and regulations. Entities must be equipped with the necessary networks and units to monitor and control the air pollutants expelled, and such networks must be electronically linked and monitored by the SCE.
  4. All entities and individuals alike must take the necessary precautions when carrying out excavation, construction or demolition works. The import of vehicles, machinery or engines that emit pollutants exceeding the permissible limits is also prohibited.
  5. Any activity that directly or indirectly harms soil, affects its natural properties or harms the quality or quantity of vegetation leading to desertification, distortion of the natural environment or change to agricultural areas is prohibited.
  6. The import, burial, storage or disposal of hazardous materials and waste are prohibited without obtaining the necessary licenses from the SCE.
  7. Exceeding the permissible sound intensity is prohibited, especially with regard to projects that require the operation of machinery, equipment and vehicles that emit loud noises.

The SCE will take the necessary measures to force any violator to rectify the acts committed in violation of the Environment Law, whereby all the repair costs will be borne by the violator.

Furthermore, the violator may face imprisonment or a fine that may range from five hundred Bahraini Dinars (BHD 500) to one million Bahraini Dinars (BHD 1,000,000), and in the case of recurrence of a crime, the penalties may be doubled to their maximum limit.

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