Owners and operators of facilities having an excessive chemical, physical or biological effect on the environment have until 15 March 2019 to submit applications to the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (“Rospotrebnadzor”) for the establishment of sanitary protection zones (“SPZs”), if no SPZs have yet been established at their facilities. This applies to facilities commissioned before 15 March 2018 and to developers who received construction permits before 15 March 2018. These requirements were outlined in the Rules for the establishment of SPZs and the use of land plots located within the boundaries of SPZs*, which came into force on 15 March 2018.

Establishment, modification and termination of SPZs

The Rules stipulate that SPZs must be established for any permanent facility that is the source of chemical, physical or biological effects on the environment that exceed sanitary and epidemiological requirements. They apply to existing, planned or refurbished facilities.

As a general rule, a developer planning to establish a SPZ must send an application to Rospotrebnadzor no later than 30 days before the submission of an application for a permit to build or reconstruct a facility.

The rights holder must – within one year from the date that the facility is commissioned – carry out the required investigation or measurements of the physical parameters of the area to determine whether an existing SPZ should be modified. Similar requirements apply when a facility is subject to a technical upgrade, a change in the production technologies used at a facility or a change in the permitted use or purpose of a facility.

The adoption of the Rules is a significant development because they introduce the right of any interested third party, who does not have rights to a facility, to independently conduct the required investigation or measurements of the physical parameters of the area. If the relevant grounds exist, the third party can submit an application to Rospotrebnadzor for the modification (including reduction in size) or the termination of the relevant SPZ. It is noteworthy that the consent of the facility’s owner is not required to carry out these activities.

Another important provision in the Rules is that SPZs and restrictions on the use of land plots located within their boundaries are expressly deemed to be established on the date information on the SPZ is entered into the Unified State Register of Immovable Property.

Transition period for existing facilities

For facilities commissioned before 15 March 2018 for which no SPZ has been previously established, and for facilities where a construction permit was issued before that date, the Rules give a one-year period to apply to Rospotrebnadzor for the establishment of SPZs. The deadline expires on 15 March 2019.

In both cases, rights owners also have two years from the establishment of an SPZ to bring the type of permitted use of land plots and facilities in compliance with the SPZ’s prescribed use.

Termination of approximate, estimated and provisional SPZs

Under paragraph 13 of article 26 of Federal Law No. 342-FZ dated 3 August 2018* approximate, estimated and provisional SPZs will cease to exist from 1 January 2020, and the restrictions on the use of land plots situated within these zones will be lifted. As a result, owners of buildings and structures for which these provisional SPZs had been established are required to apply to Rospotrebnadzor by 1 October 2019 for the establishment of SPZs according to the procedure established by the Rules or for the termination of such approximate, estimated or provisional SPZs.

Comments

The new regulations significantly amend the procedure for establishing, changing and terminating SPZs. Some of the changes are positive, such as the transparency of information on SPZs since data about them will be entered into the Unified State Register of Immovable Property, or the rights of interested parties to submit applications to reduce the size of SPZs, even without the consent of the facilities’ rights holders. All this is designed to accelerate the development and construction of new and existing facilities.

On the other hand, it is necessary to take note of the specific deadlines laid down for rights holders and developers to apply for the establishment, modification or termination of SPZs.

In view of the above, rights holders and developers should consider whether to carry out the required investigation or measurements as well as prepare and submit the documents for the establishment of SPZs, including the registration of SPZs in the State Register, in accordance with the provisions of the Rules.