WHAT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT?
The environmental agreement is an administrative act issued by the environmental protection authorities, through which it establishes the conditions and measures for environmental protection, which need to be respected when developing a project.
Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of April 16th 2014 amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, (EIA Directive) requests the drafting of the procedure for the assessment of the environmental impact (EIA). Any development of a public or private project also generates the obligation of requesting and obtaining an environmental agreement. The agreement maintains its validity throughout the entire period of the project development.
The procedure for requesting and obtaining the environmental agreement is carried out in compliance with the requirements of two important legislative acts, namely the law 292/2018 on the assessment of the impact had by certain public and private projects on the environment, with subsequent amendments and completions and the Order no. 135 of February 10th 2010 on the approval of the Methodology for the enforcement of the assessment of the impact had by certain public and private projects on the environment, with subsequent amendments and completions.
In order to identify the necessity of requesting the environmental agreement we first of all need to start from the definition of the environmental agreement, according to law 292/2018, it represents „the administrative act issued by the competent environmental protection authority, through which it establishes the conditions and measures for environmental protection, which need to be respected when developing a project”.
WHEN IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT NECESSARY?
Next, in order to clarify the aspects regarding the types of projects which are obliged to request an environmental agreement, the competent authority has explained the term project, as „the execution of construction works or installation works, other interventions on the natural environment and landscape, including those involving the exploitation of mineral resources”.
Therefore, for any project, regardless of its size, destination or location, it is necessary to request and obtain the environmental agreement.
HOW IS IT OBTAINED?
The first step in requesting and obtaining the environmental agreement is requesting from the local public authority an urbanism certificate, necessary for obtaining a building permit. Within the urbanism certificate, the issuer will mention the necessity of requesting regulatory documents from all competent authorities and therefore from the competent environmental protection authority, which is responsible for carrying out the procedure for assessing the environmental impact and issuing the environmental agreement.
The authorities responsible for carrying out the procedure for assessing the environmental impact are represented, first of all, by the central or territorial public authority for environmental protection, with the involvement of central or local public authorities, as applicable, which have specific attributions and liabilities in the field of environmental protection. The involvement of the authorities is carried out within a technical analyze commission, which will obligatorily include representatives of the local and/or central public administration, and also from the departments coordinating the activity of spatial planning and urbanism, of the public health authority, of the National Administration “Romanian Waters”, the territorial inspectorate for emergency situations, the territorial commissariats of the National Environmental Guard and, as applicable, representatives of the structures responsible for: forestry territorial inspectorates, the county or Bucharest offices for agriculture and rural development, the offices for the supply of public utilities and services, for the management of parks and public gardens, of archaeological sites and historical monuments, the management of protected natural areas, including representatives of scientific councils organized at the level of protected natural areas, of regional development agencies etc.
After obtaining the urbanism certificate, the next step is for the project’s representative to request the environmental agreement, by submitting at the territorial environmental protection authority a documentation that involves drafting the notification regarding the intent of carrying out the project, accompanied by the urbanism certificate issued under the law for authorizing the execution of construction works, the plans attached to it and the proof of payment of the fee corresponding to this stage, amounting 100 lei, which can also be paid through bank transfer in the account of the competent authority (EPA Bucharest and EPA Ilfov do not cash taxes at their headquarters, but only through payment in the Treasury account).
THE COUNTY AGENCY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION VERIFIES THE LOCATION, IF NECESSARY, AND ISSUES A DECISION THAT CAN CONSIST OF:
- The classification of the notification for the projects that do not affect protected natural areas and which are not likely to have significant effects on the environment due, among other things, to their nature, size or location, which is where they classify small projects, such as homes, projects which do not require obtaining an environmental permit, etc. and which are not found in Annex 1 or Annex 2 of law 292/2018 or GEO 57/2007,
- The rejection of the approval request for projects located in areas with building restrictions established through the environmental protection law,
- The need to continue the procedure by starting the environmental impact assessment procedure, including the adequate assessment procedure, for the projects corresponding to the activities that are subjected to the provisions of art. 28 of GEO no. 57/2007, with subsequent amendments and completions, and of law no 292/2018, according to the model in annex no. 4,
- The need to continue the procedure by starting the environmental impact assessment procedure, and submitting the presentation memorandum, for the projects corresponding to the activities subjected to the provisions of law 292/2018 and not subjected to art. 28 of the Emergency Government Decision no. 57/2007, with subsequent amendments and completions, according to the model in annex no. 4,
- The need to continue the procedure by starting the adequate assessment procedure, according to the model in annex no. 4, for projects subjected to the provisions of art. 28 in the Emergency Government Decision no. 57/2007, with subsequent amendments and completions
For smaller projects, with no impact on the environment, usually the procedure ends here, at the notification’s classification.
For the projects for which the continuation of the environmental impact assessment procedure was decided, it is necessary to file a presentation memorandum and publish an announcement in the national or local press, also displaying it at its own headquarters/on its own internet page/at the headquarters of the authority or of the local public administration authorities in whose jurisdiction the implementation of the project is proposed.
THE FINAL STEP IN THE PROCEDURE AND THE ISSUANCE OF THE AGREEMENT
After the Environmental Protection Agency analyzes the presentation memorandum and the project is evaluated within the Technical analyze commission, a new decision is issued, consisting in either the termination of the procedure and issuance of the final act (projects for which it was decided that it is not necessary to carry out the environmental impact assessment) or the continuation of the procedure by carrying out the environmental impact assessment and/or the adequate assessment for projects with an impact on the environment, especially those provided in Annex 1 and/or Annex 2 of the law 292/2018 and/or which can affect the protected natural areas according to GEO 57/2007.
The public is informed with regard to the decision of the classification stage by the company’s representative, through a notification published in the national or local press and displayed at its own headquarters and on its own Internet page, as well as at the headquarters of the authority/the local public administration authorities in whose jurisdiction the implementation of the project is proposed.
For the project that continues with the environmental impact assessment procedure, it is necessary to draft an additional documentation consisting in the drafting of an Environmental Impact Report and/or an adequate assessment study, in case of projects that might significantly affect the natural protected areas. For the projects involving hazardous substances in quantities exceeding certain thresholds it is also necessary to draft a security report.
The environmental impact report, the adequate assessment study, the impact assessment over the water bodies and the security report are drafted by individuals or legal entities attested by the Ministry of the Environment and which are registered in the Register of environmental studies developers managed by the relevant ministry.
In the analysis stage over the environmental impact report you need to simultaneous fill in the adequate assessment, the impact assessment over the water bodies and the environmental impact report
The impact assessment over the water bodies is necessary to be elaborated based on the Water law nr 107/1996 with subsequent amendments and completions” “The procedure of issuing the water management notice includes assessing the impact of the project over the water bodies based on the impact study over the water bodies “. According to ORD nr 828/2019 regarding the approval of the Procedure and competencies of issuing , modifying and withdrawing the water management notice including the procedure of assessing the impact over the water bodies, of Content regulation of the technical documentation submitted for approval, and the Framework content of the Environmental impact assessment over the water bodies, Annex 1a of Procedure – Projects which are built near the water surface or which are related to water are falling under the impact assessment over the water bodies the following projects:
- Construction and installation work which ensure a complex water management including the mitigation of great waters by changing the natural flow regime: dams, permanent water storage, hydro derivates
- Water usage with the related constructions and installations: hydropower plants
THE REST OF THE PROJECTS DEFINED AT ART 48 AND ART 54 OF WATER LAW NR 107/1998 WITH SUBSEQUENT AMENDMENTS AND COMPLETIONS WILL SUBMIT TO THE PROCEDURE OF IMPACT ASSESSMENT OVER THE WATER BODIES ONLY AFTER THE WATER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITIES DECISION.
After drafting and submitting the report to the EPA, the company and EPA jointly establish the date and the location of the public debate organized so that the public takes part in the decision-making process, the announcement of the debate is being published in the national or local press and displayed at the holder’s headquarters or on its internet page/at the headquarters of the local public authority and/or the information panel placed at the site, the announcement of the competent environmental protection authority is being communicated with at least 20 days before the date provided for the public debate.
Within the public debate meeting, the project’s representative will present the environmental impact report and the security report, as applicable, and will answer the comments/opinions/observations of the interested public. In the absence of interested persons in the public, the meeting will end after 60 minutes, mandatory term established by the legislation in force.
After the completion of the public debate, if no additions to the documentation are required, the environmental agreement is issued.
WHAT DOES AN ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT CONTAIN?
The environmental agreement includes specific requirements for the purpose of ensuring a high degree of environmental protection throughout the development of the project, including the site organization, as well as during the subsequent performance of the activity, and demolition / decommissioning.
The review and update of the environmental agreement means any registering or mentions in an annex and/or modifying the initial content of the document. The fee for reviewing the environmental agreement is of 500 lei.
At the end of the investments which have represented the object of the environmental impact assessment procedure and/or of the adequate assessment procedure, the competent environmental protection authority performs a specialized assessment in order to verify if the provisions of the environmental agreement were respected, the assessment report being attached to the minutes of reception upon completion of the works.
A few examples of fields/projects which require carrying out the environmental impact assessment procedure: projects for the use of uncultivated land or of partially anthropic surfaces with the purpose of intensive agriculture, installations for the production of cast iron or steel, installations for the processing of ferrous metals, melting protection metal coatings, ferrous metal smelters, shipyards, cement manufacturing plants, storage facilities for petroleum, petrochemical and chemical products, packaging and preservation of animal and vegetable products, manufacture of dairy products, manufacture of confectionery and syrup products, slaughterhouses, textile, leather, wood and paper industry, deposits of scrap iron, used vehicles, including vehicle waste, etc.
COSTS AND FINES
The total value of the tariff paid in the EPA account for obtaining the environmental agreement can reach 3500 lei according to the ORDER no. 1108 of July 5th 2007 with subsequent amendments and completions, but most projects end either at the initial assessment stage or in the project classification stage, the tariff for carrying out the two stages (the initial stage and the classification stage) being of 500 lei (100+400).
In case that, after the issuance of the environmental agreement and before obtaining the building permit, the project has undergone modifications, the holder of the project is obliged to notify in writing the public environmental protection authority in regards to these changes, the fine for failing to observe this provision varying from 5.000 lei to 10.000 lei, for individuals, and from 25.000 lei to 50.000 lei, for legal entities.
Carrying out the projects provided in annex no. 1 and of those provided in annex no. 2 of law 292/2018 without obtaining the environmental agreement is strictly forbidden, the fee for the failure to observe this requirement varying from 5.000 lei to 10.000 lei, for individuals, and from 25.000 lei to 50.000 lei, for legal entities.
The failure of observing the conditions provided in the environmental agreement is sanctioned with a fine from 3.000 lei to 6.000 lei, for individuals, and from 20.000 lei to 40.000 lei, for legal entities.