14 September 2022, Nukualofa - Tonga has become the latest country to embrace the registration of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) consultants with the passing of a new regulation requiring that a person preparing an EIA report must be registered and hold a valid EIA certificate.
The “Registration of EIA Consultant Regulation 2021”, passed by Tonga’s Cabinet, was applauded by the Deputy Director of Tonga’s Department of Environment (DoE), Mr Sione Tukia, who said the new regulation will strengthen and improve management of natural resources in Tonga, both terrestrial and marine ecosystem.
“The future of major development in Tonga will most likely improve with experts registered to bring best practices. Tonga looks forward to work closely with local, regional, and international consultant under the new regulation to improve socioeconomic, biological, ecological, cultural, and physical environment,” Mr Tukia said.
EIA is a process that is used to assess and manage individual development projects. Depending on the scale and magnitude of developments, EIAs can be highly technical in nature and therefore require specialist expertise to conduct assessments. As such, EIA consultants must be highly competent in their selected field to be able to perform detailed assessments, which may include modelling.
As part of its efforts towards improving environmental practices in the region, SPREP has been working with Member countries to develop a national registry of approved consultants to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).
The goal is to ensure all that all consultants conducting EIA and other environmental assessments meet the required national regulations, standards, and codes of conduct including proper reporting. SPREP through the Environmental Monitoring and Governance (EMG) program has recently provided technical assistance to the Tonga Department of Environment (DoE) in establishing a register of consultants to strengthen EIA practices and outcomes in the Kingdom.
In the Regulation, section 3 requires that it is a must for any person conducting EIA in Tonga under the Act and EIA Regulations to have a valid EIA Consultant certificate.
To apply for a certificate, interested candidates must fill an application form with a prescribed fee of up to TOP$1300 for local Principal consultants with a TOP$800.00 renewal fee. Overseas principal consultant pays $3900 with a renewal fee of $2400.00. There are also prescribed fees for senior and assistant consultants’ categories.
According to the new Regulation, EIA study team should consist of a principal consultant as the team leader and any number of senior consultants and assistant consultants.
In section 5, the CEO of Environment may convene a Review Panel to consider an application for certificate and make recommendation on the suitability of the applicant for registration. A Review Panel may also provide recommendation on the suitability of an application for registration.
For further information, contact Mr Jope Davetanivalu, Director for Environmental Monitoring and Governance Program ([email protected]), or Mr Sione Tukia, Deputy Director for Tonga Department of Environment ([email protected]).