The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand of 2007 brings a comprehensive coverage of environmental issues, including the right to information and a set of directive principles of State Policies in relation to Land, Natural Resources and the Environment.
“Section 42. The expropriation of immovable property shall not be made except by virtue of the law specifically enacted for State affairs dedicated to public utilities, necessary national defence, exploitation of national resources, town and country planning, promotion and preservation of the quality of the environment, agricultural or industrial development, land reform, conservation of ancient places and sources of historical value or other public interests, and fair compensation shall be paid in due time to the owner thereof as well as to all persons having the rights thereto, who suffer loss by such expropriation, as provided by law. […]
Section 43. A person shall enjoy the liberties to engage in an enterprise or an occupation and to undertake fair and free competition.
The restriction on such liberties under paragraph one shall not be imposed except by virtue of the law specifically enacted for maintaining the security and safety of the State or economy of the country, protecting the public in regard to public utilities, maintaining public order and good morals, regulating the engagement in an occupation, consumer protection, town and country planning, preserving natural resources or the environment, public welfare, preventing monopoly, or eliminating unfair competition.
Section 57. A person shall have the right to receive data, explanations and reasons from a Government agency, a State agency, a State enterprise or a local government organisation prior to the approval or the operation of any project or activity which may affect the quality of the environment, health and sanitary conditions, the quality of life or any other material interest concerning such person or a local community and shall have the right to express his or her opinions to agencies concerned, for assisting further consideration of such matters. […]
Section 66. Persons so assembling as to be a community, a local community or a traditional community shall have the right to conserve or restore their customs, local knowledge, good arts and culture of their community and of the nation and participate in the management, maintenance, preservation and exploitation of natural resources, the environment and the biological diversity in a balanced and sustainable fashion.
Section 67. The right of a person to give to the State and communities participation in the conservation, preservation and exploitation of natural resources and biological diversities and in the protection, promotion and preservation of the quality of the environment for regular and continued livelihood in the environment which is not hazardous to his or her health and sanitary condition, welfare or quality of life, shall be protected as appropriate.
Any project or activity which may seriously affect the community with respect to the quality of the environment, natural resources and health shall not be permitted, unless, prior to the operation thereof, its impacts on the quality of the environment and on public health have been studied and assessed and a public hearing process has been conducted for consulting the public as well as interested persons and there have been obtained opinions of an independent organisation, consisting of representatives from private organisations in the field of the environment and health and from higher education institutions providing studies in the field of the environment, natural resources or health.
The right of a community to bring a lawsuit against a Government agency, a State agency, a State enterprise, a local government organisation or other State authority which is a juristic person for the performance of duties under this provision shall be protected.
Section 73. Every person shall have a duty to serve in armed forces, render assistance in the prevention and alleviation of public hazards, pay taxes and duties, render assistance to the official service, receive education and training, safeguard, protect and pass on national arts, culture and local knowledge and conserve natural resources and the environment, as provided for by law.
Part 8: Directive Principles of State Policies in relation to Land, Natural Resources and the Environment
Section 85. The State shall pursue directive principles of State policies in relation to land, natural resources and the environment, as follows: (1) to prescribe rules on land use which cover areas throughout the country, having regard to the consistency with natural surroundings, whether land areas, water surfaces, ways of life of local residents, and the efficient preservation of natural resources, and prescribe standards for sustainable land use, provided that residents in areas affected by such rules on land use shall also have due participation in the decision-making; (2) to distribute land holding in a fair manner, enable farmers to have ownership or rights in land for farming purposes thoroughly through land reform or otherwise, and provide water resources for sufficient use of water by farmers in a manner suitable for farming; (3) to provide town and country planning and carry out the development and action in the implementation of town and country plans in an efficient and effective manner in the interest of sustainable preservation of natural resources; (4) to provide a plan for managing water resources and other natural resources systematically and in a manner generating public interests, provided that the public shall have due participation in the preservation, maintenance and exploitation of natural resources and biological diversity in a balanced fashion; (5) promote, maintain and protect the quality of natural resources in accordance with the sustainable development principle, control and eradiate polluted conditions affecting health, sanitary conditions, welfare and the quality of life of the public, provided that members of the public, local residents and local government organisations shall have due participation in determining the direction of such work.”
All the information regarding environmental protection in Thailand can be accessed through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Environmental legislation in Thailand is available on the Food and Agriculture Organization Legal Office’s website.