Once an environmental impact assessment required for environmental permitting has been accepted by the relevant environmental agency, it is subject to a public hearing at which the project will be presented. The applicant must provide an explanation of any potential environmental impact that the project may have on society and the proposed remedies for such effects, as well as compensating measures for any effect that cannot be eliminated or mitigated. All of the community's questions, doubts and concerns must be answered. Non-governmental organisations, environmental groups and, most importantly, citizens frequently take part in such hearings.

At judicial level, under Federal Law 7347/1985, environmental damages are subject to public class actions for demanding an affirmative covenant or indemnifying any environmental damages caused. Furthermore, Federal Law 4717/1965 regulates popular actions, which can be employed for the protection of the environment and recovery of any environmental damages. Such actions can be filed by any citizen.

In addition, Federal Law 10,650/2003 grants all individuals access to any document or administrative procedure regarding environmental matters held by all agencies that form part of the national environmental system. This data may include information regarding environmental quality, policies, inspections, audits, accidents, emissions, toxic and dangerous substances, biological diversity and genetically modified organisms. Recently, Federal Law 12,527/2012 extended this provision to all public institutions, setting specific deadlines for the disclosure of information to the public, when required.

For further information on this topic please contact Maria Alice Doria at Doria, Jacobina e Gondinho Advogados by telephone (+55 21 3523 9090), fax (+55 21 3523 9080) or email ([email protected]).

An earlier version of this update first appeared in Latin Lawyer.