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Activities subject to permit
Which activities require an environmental permit and how are they classified for such purposes?
The European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) (2010/75/EU) requires the following categories of activity to operate in accordance with a permit:
- energy industries (in particular power plants);
- production and processing of metals;
- the mineral industry (including the production of cement and asbestos and manufacturing glass);
- production of organic and inorganic chemicals;
- waste management (ie, the disposal and recovery of waste); and
- other activities, including the production of pulp, paper and cardboard, pre-treatment and dyeing of textiles, tanning of hides and skins, disposal or recycling of animal carcasses, and intensive rearing of poultry or pigs.
A detailed list of activities falling within each of these categories may be found in Annex I of the IED.
Which authority issues permits?
Competent authorities designated by the EU member states are responsible for issuing permits (Article 5 of the IED).
What are the procedural and documentary requirements to obtain a permit?
Article 12 of the IED requires operators to provide a description of the following when applying for a permit:
- the installation and its activities;
- the raw and auxiliary materials, other substances and the energy used in or generated by the installation;
- the sources of emissions from the installation;
- the conditions of the site of the installation;
- where applicable, a state of soil and groundwater contamination baseline report;
- the nature and quantities of foreseeable emissions from the installation into each medium, as well as identification of significant effects of the emissions on the environment;
- the proposed technology and other techniques for preventing or, where this is not possible, reducing emissions from the installation;
- measures for the prevention, preparation for re-use, recycling and recovery of waste generated by the installation;
- any other measures planned to prevent pollution, waste, inefficient energy use, accidents (and to limit their consequences);
- measures planned to monitor emissions into the environment; and
- the main alternatives to the proposed technology, techniques and measures studied by the applicant.
The permit application must also include a non-technical summary of the above.
Do any permit fees apply?
The IED does not impose permit fees, but it does not preclude EU member states from applying such fees.
Validity period and renewal
What is the validity period for permits and how can they be renewed?
The IED does not specify a validity period for permits. Instead, Article 21 provides that the national competent authorities must periodically reconsider permits, ensuring that the installation’s emission levels do not exceed those associated with the best available techniques (BATs, including new and updated BATs) for such an installation, and that the installation complies with permit conditions. Permits are renewed in accordance with conditions that result from national competent authority permit reconsiderations.
Can permits be transferred? If so, what procedure applies?
The IED does not contain any specific provisions on transferring permits, leaving it instead to EU member states to decide on transfer provisions in their national rules implementing the directive.
Are permit decisions subject to appeal? If so, what procedure applies?
The IED leaves the modalities of appealing permit decisions to national law, with the exception of specifying (in Article 25) that member states must ensure that members of the public, demonstrating a sufficient interest and impairment of a right, are able to challenge permit decisions before a court or other independent and impartial body.
What are the consequences of violating permit rules and decisions?
Article 8 of the IED provides that in the event of a breach of permit conditions, the operator must:
- immediately inform the competent authority;
- take the measures necessary to ensure that compliance is restored within the shortest possible timeframe; and
- take any further complementary measures that the national competent authority considers necessary to restore compliance.
Where the breach of permit conditions poses an immediate danger to human health or threatens to cause an immediate significant adverse effect upon the environment, and until compliance is restored, the operator must suspend operating the installation.
In addition, Article 79 of the IED requires member states to impose effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for violating permit rules and decisions.
Environmental impact assessments
Projects subject to assessment
What projects require a preliminary environmental impact assessment?
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (2011/92/EU, as amended by 2014/52/EU) applies to all “public and private projects which are likely to have significant effects on the environment”. Specific examples of projects that may be covered are listed in Annexes I and II.
Scope of assessment
What environmental factors and risks fall within the scope of the impact assessment report?
According to Article 3 of the EIA Directive, the following factors should be considered in the EIA:
- population and human health;
- land, soil, water, air and climate;
- material assets, cultural heritage and the landscape; and
- the interaction between these factors.
Further, the effects on these factors shall take account of the vulnerability of the project to risks of major accidents and/or disasters that are relevant to the project concerned.
Article 5 and Annex IV of the EIA Directive set out what the EIA report must contain.
Who conducts assessments?
According to Article 5(3) of the EIA Directive, the developer must prepare and submit the EIA report. The developer must ensure that the EIA report is prepared by competent experts. In addition, the competent authority must ensure that it has access to sufficient expertise to examine the EIA report and, where necessary, must seek from the developer supplementary information needed to reach a reasoned conclusion on the significant effects of the project.
Are the results of impact assessments publicly available?
Yes. Article 6 of the EIA Directive requires the public to be informed and consulted on the EIA process. Specifically, the public must be provided with the information set out in Articles 6(2) and (3), and is entitled to express comments and opinions until such time as a decision is taken on the request for development consent. Specifically, the timeframe for consulting the public on the EIA assessment report shall be at least 30 days.
Can the results of an impact assessment be contested? If so, what procedure applies?
According to Article 11 of the EIA Directive, members of the public may, in accordance with the laws and procedures of the member state in question, bring a legal challenge to the substantive or procedural legality of decisions, acts or omissions that are subject to the public participation provisions in the directive. It is up to the member states to determine at what stage the decisions, acts or omissions may be challenged (ie, whether the EIA report itself is capable of being challenged, as opposed to the decision to grant or refuse development consent based on that EIA report).
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