Environmental Permits Maintain Validity Now Only if Endorsed Yearly
A recent piece of legislation that came into force on 15 November 2018 is likely to have a severe impact on the holders of environmental permits and environmental integrated authorisations.
From now on, environmental permits and environmental integrated authorisations will only maintain their validity until their expiry date, if they are endorsed yearly by the competent environmental authorities.
In accordance with Order no. 1171, issued by the Ministry of Environment regarding the approval of environmental permits and environmental integrated authorisations and published in the Official Gazette and enacted as of 15 November 2018 (“Endorsement Act”), holders of environmental permits and environmental integrated authorisations will have to annually request the endorsement of these permits in order to maintain their validity. Prior to the Endorsement Act, the environmental permit was valid for a period of 5 years and the integrated environmental authorisation for a period of 10 years.
The National Environment Protection Agency (“NEPA”) is the competent authority that will issue the yearly endorsements, but it may delegate its powers to the regional Environmental Protection Agencies (“EPA”).
Therefore, from 15 November 2018, in order to maintain the validity of the environmental permits and environmental integrated authorisations for their original periods, holders of such permits must annually request their endorsement by NEPA/EPA (“Endorsement”).
When applying for the Endorsement, the following documents have to be provided to NEPA/EPA:
(i) an application for the approval of the Endorsement;
(ii) the environmental report; and
(iii) an affidavit stating that the activity is carried out under the same conditions for which the environmental permit or the environmental integrated authorisation was originally issued, and that no changes have occurred.
The request for the Endorsement must be filed with NEPA/EPA yearly and, at the latest, 60 days prior to the anniversary of the grant of the original environmental permit or environmental integrated authorisation.
Within 10 days of receipt of the Endorsement request, NEPA/EPA shall set a date for a site inspection. This is to verify and confirm the site compliance with the authorised conditions contained in the environmental permit or environmental integrated authorisation. Amongst other obligations, NEPA/EPA must also check the completion status of prior imposed measures (i.e. obligations imposed within the issued permits or conformity programmes).
In the event that the authorised conditions contained in the environmental permit or environmental integrated authorisation are confirmed, the EPA shall issue the Endorsement, thereby maintaining the validity of the environmental permit or environmental integrated authorisation.
However, should the conditions not be confirmed, NEPA/EPA must grant the permit holder a 30 day remedy period. If the conditions are still not confirmed during this period, NEPA/EPA shall refuse to issue the Endorsement, resulting in the environmental permit or environmental integrated authorisation becoming invalid.
The decision of NEPA/EPA to refuse issue of the Endorsement may be contested within an administrative court.
Due to the procedure being so new there is no NEPA/EPA practice to be analysed so far, however it will be interesting to monitor the nature of any irregularities which could trigger the refusal of the Endorsement, and whether they coincide with the conditions for the revocation, or even annulment, of environmental permit and/or environmental integrated authorisations, since the failure to obtain the annual Endorsement would have the exact same effect as the revocation or annulment of the permits and/or authorisations.
Should you have any questions or need further information in relation the above, please contact our Energy and Environmental Team: Silviu Stratulat, Managing Partner, at SStratulat@saa.ro; Irina Petre, Partner, at IPetre@saa.ro and Laura Neacsu, Managing Associate, at LNeacsu@saa.ro, or call our office on +40 (21) 316 87 49.
This document provides a general summary only and is not, nor is it intended to be, comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought regarding the particular facts of a given situation.