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REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT

Promulgated, State Gazette No. 91/25.09.2002

Corrected, SG No. 96/2002

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Chapter Two

INFORMATION RELATING TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Article 17

Anyone shall have the right of access to available information relating to the environment without having to prove a specific interest.

Article 18

The information relating to the environment shall be:

1. available primary information;

2. available pre-processed information;

3. expressly processed information.

Article 19

"Information relating to the environment" shall mean any information in written, visual, aural, electronic or other physical form regarding:

1. the state of the environmental media covered under Article 4 herein and the interaction therebetween;

2. the factors covered under Article 5 herein, as well as the activities and/or measures, including administrative measures, international agreements, policies, legislation, plans and programmes impacting or capable of impacting the environmental media;

3. the state of human health and safety, inasmuch as they are or may be affected by the state of the environmental media or, through the said media, by the factors, activities or measures referred to in Item 2;

4. cultural and historical heritage sites, buildings and installations, inasmuch as they are or may be affected by the state of the environmental media or, through the said media, by the factors, activities or measures referred to in Item 2;

5. costs-benefit analysis and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities referred to in Item 2;

6. emissions, discharges and other harmful impacts on the environment.

Article 20

(1) Access to information relating to the environment may be denied where the request is for:

1. classified information constituting a state secret or an official secret;

2. information constituting an industrial or commercial secret, designated as such by law;

3. intellectual property;

4. information constituting personal data, where the natural person concerned has not consented to the disclosure of the said information, and according to the requirements provided for in the Protection of Personal Data Act;

5. information which would adversely affect the interests of a third party which has supplied the information requested without that party being under or capable of being under a legal obligation to do so, and where that party does not consent to the release of the material;

6. information that will adversely affect the environmental media.

(2) Information relating to the environment shall be provided within fourteen days after the date on which the applicant was notified about the decision of the competent authority to provide access to the information requested.

(3) The persons who or which report information relating to the environment to the competent authorities shall be obliged to mark the information subject to any of the restrictions on provision covered under Paragraph (1).

(4) Upon making a decision to refuse provision of any information covered under Paragraph (1), the competent authority shall take into account the public interest served by disclosure of any such information.

(5) In the cases of restricted access, the available information relating to the environment shall be provided in the part therein as can possibly be separated out from the information covered under Paragraph (1).

(6) The restriction of the right of access to information shall not apply to any information relating to emissions of noxious substances into the environment expressed as limit values established by legislative acts.

Article 21

(1) Competent authorities under this Chapter shall be the central and local executive authorities that collect and hold information relating to the environment.

(2) Competent authorities within the meaning of Paragraph (1) shall furthermore be the other bodies and organizations that dispose of resources of the consolidated national budget and that collect and hold information relating to the environment, with the exception of the legislative and judicial authorities.

Article 22

(1) Annually, the Council of Ministers shall present to the National Assembly a report on the state of the environment, proposed by the Minister of Environment and Water who, after adoption of the said report, shall publish the said report as an Annual Report on the State of the Environment

(2) The Report referred to in Paragraph (1) shall be laid before the National Assembly not later than three months after the National Statistical Institute provides the requisite information and data.

Article 23

(1) In the event of accidental or other pollution, where the limit values for pollutants discharge in the environment as established by a legislative act or an individual administrative act are exceeded, the polluters, as well as the persons responsible for observance of the limit values shall be obliged to notify immediately the competent regional governors, mayors of the municipalities concerned, the relevant RIEWs, the basin directorates, and the authorities of the State Agency for Civil Protection and, in case of change of the radiation level, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency as well.

(2) The competent authorities covered under Paragraph (1) shall be obliged to notify immediately the Ministry of Health and the affected community about the occurrence of pollution in excess of the emission limit values, suggesting measures for protection of human health and of property.

Article 24

On an annual basis, each head of an administrative structure in the system of the executive branch of government shall publish data for the arrays and resources of processed environmental information referred to in Item 2 of Article 18 herein.

Article 25

(1) The Minister of Environment and Water shall issue an order determining the description of the information arrays and resources referred to in Item 3 of Article 15 (1) of the Access to Public Information Act, where the said arrays and resources contain any information covered under Article 19 herein.

(2) The order referred to in Paragraph (1) shall be promulgated in the State Gazette.

(3) The description of the information arrays referred to in Paragraph (1) and in Article 24 herein shall be published on the Internet site of the Ministry of Environment and Water.

Article 26

(1) The procedure established by Chapter Three of the Access to Public Information Act ("Procedure for Granting Access to Public Information") shall apply to the provision of access to information relating to the environment.

(2) Any decision to grant access to information under Article 34 (1) of the Access to Public Information Act shall specify whether expressly processed information or another type of information is provided.

Article 27

Any refusal to provide information as a party shall need to prepare the case for the defence therein in any proceeding provided for in this Act or in another law shall be appealable according to the procedure established by the Administrative Procedure Act.

Article 28

A charge for supplying any information referred to in Items 1 and 2 of Article 18 herein shall be made under the terms and according to the procedure established by Articles 20 to 22 of the Access to Public Information Act.

Article 29

The charge made for provision of expressly processed information shall be negotiated in each particular case.

Article 30

The competent authorities shall provide available primary and pre-processed information relating to the environment at no charge to each other, as well as to the municipalities where the recipients shall need any such information to make decisions within the competence therein.

Article 31

In the broadcasts therein, the national public-service radio and television operators shall:

1. disseminate information relating to environmental protection and management;

2. ensure protection of the right to information on the state of the environment;

3. popularize knowledge and scientific and technological advances in the field of environmental protection by means of transmission of Bulgarian and foreign educational programmes.

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