The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization (“Ministry”) has amended the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation(Çevresel Etki Değerlendirmesi Yönetmeliği) ("EIA Regulation"), which entered into force on November 25, 2014.
What is EIA
Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") is the process of evaluating projects to prevent and minimize any negative impact the project may have on the environment. The Ministry either issues a decision indicating “the environmental impact assessment is not required,” in which case project owners can initiate their projects, or “the environmental impact assessment is required," making project owners subject to the environmental impact assessment procedure. The latter projects require an EIA decision under the EIA Regulation indicating “the environmental impact assessment is affirmative” in order to carry out activities.
Shorter Submission Time
The Ministry authorizes institutions to prepare an EIA report, and the institutions then submit the prepared report to the Ministry. If the Ministry decides the report is not adequate under the EIA Regulation, it will return the EIA report to the institution to complete missing documents and fulfill all requirements.
Under the new EIA Regulation, upon authorization, an institution has three months rather than the previous six, to prepare andsubmit the report.
The previous six-month submission period was criticized as a factor in extending the EIA process. The amendment allows project owners to obtain the EIA quicker, saving time and cost.
Before the amendment, an EIA report was required for large-scale infrastructure, commercial and housing projects. This requirement was infamous for causing project delays and additional costs for project owners. Under the new EIA Regulation, certain scaled projects are exempt from the report, again saving project owners time and cost.
The following projects are exempt from the EIA Report:
Railways with the length of 100 km or under.
Water projects with a capacity less than 100 millionm3/year, which are between stream basins.
Dams and small lakes with a capacity under 10 millionm3/year. Additionally, the new EIA Regulation no longer requires energy production in order to build dams and small lakes.
Hydroelectric power plants with an installed capacity of and under 10 MWm (previously, the expected installed capacity was 25 MWm).
The following projects had been exempt from the EIA Report with certain restrictions, but are now totally exempt under the new EIA Regulation:
Mass housing projects.
Projects for reconstruction of agricultural land.
Projects for transformation of forest areas for another use of purpose.
EIA application files will now be subject to public opinion. The public will have the right to intervene in the evaluation process of a project, and public opinion will be considered in the preparation stage of the EIA report, rather than after the report is finalized. Previously, only the finalized EIA report was presented to the public and reformulated according to public opinion. The amendment shortens the EIA process by responding to public feedback at the very beginning of the process.
These significant changes, particularly the exemptions above, mean institutions will save time and money. The public opinion provisions still lack detailed explanations, however, and so the amendment may not be all positive for institutions.