Objective: To enhance public access to information through the establishment of coherent, integrated, nation-wide pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) which could facilitate public participation in environmental decision-making as well as contribute to the prevention and reduction of pollution of the environment.
Summary of Provisions: Article 3 sets the general provisions of this Protocol and in particular specifies that each party is to be guided by the precautionary approach in its implementation. The core elements of the publicly accessible national PRTR system that each Party undertakes to establish are set forth in article 4, while article 5 specifies elements of design and structure. In particular, Parties ensure that the data held on the register are presented in both aggregated and non-aggregated form so that releases and transfers can be searched and identified according inter alia to facility, activity, operator or pollutant/waste. Moreover, each Party is to ensure that its register includes information on release of certain pollutants, off-site transfers and releases of pollutants from diffuse sources (art.6.1). Parties are to require owners or operators of each facility that undertakes an activity specified in Annex I of the Protocol to submit certain specified information if the release or transfer of pollutants exceeds certain thresholds (art.7). Parties undertake to ensure that the information required to be incorporated in its register is publicly available (art. 8.1) and that the public can access the information without an interest having to be stated and free of charge (art.11). However, Parties may authorise the competent authority to keep information held on the register confidential under certain conditions listed in article 12. They undertake to ensure that any person who considers that his or her request for information has been inadequately answered, has access to a review procedure before a court of law or another independent and impartial body established by law (art. 14). Finally, Parties are to promote public awareness of its register (art. 15) and cooperate and assist each other (art. 16)
Institutional mechanisms: Article 17 establishes a Meeting of the Parties. The Meeting of the Parties is to keep under continuous review the implementation and development of this Protocol on the basis of regular reporting by the Parties (art. 17.2). The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe is to carry out certain secretariat functions under the Protocol including the preparation and servicing of the sessions, the transmission to the Parties of reports and other information received (art. 21). At its first session, the Meeting of the Parties is to establish cooperative procedures and institutional arrangements of a non-judicial, non-adversarial and consultative nature to assess and promote compliance and to address cases of non- compliance (art. 22).
(Source: IUCN ELC, 08.2005)