Planned strict binding character of EIA results and direct public participation in approval process.
If the Slovak parliament passes a proposed amendment to the Act on environmental impact assessment without comment, this could lead to a stricter and longer assessment process for projects submitted after 01 December 2014.
Currently, the decision whether an EIA is required for a specific project (screening) and the related EIA opinion are used only as one of the support documents in the approval procedure. Thus views vary on the use of legal remedies in this process. According to the amendment, a decision on the need for environmental impact assessment and the related opinion should be binding and subject both to use of legal remedies in administrative law and to judicial review. Thus all environmental matters should be considered within the environmental impact assessment. The competent authority for the approval procedure would then be obliged to accept the decision or the opinion to the full extent.
After various decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Slovak Supreme Court on violation of access to environmental information and public participation in environmental impact assessment, these rights are to be better enforced. Now the public will be given the clear status of a party to the process. The authorities will be obliged to announce an environmental impact assessment on their website. Comments within the environmental impact assessment process from the public (a natural person over 18; a legal entity or organization) would automatically lead to recognition of their party rights in the approval process. Public participation will also be considerably increased by the possibility to use formal remedies against a decision in the approval process. In this way the requirements and obligations set by the Aarhus Convention should be met.
The price for better transparency of the approval process and enforcement of environmental protection, such as a longer approval process and higher costs, should be borne especially by applicants. Therefore we recommend early reconsideration of planned amendments during project planning and strategic decisions regarding projects from 01 December 2014.
Source: Act No. 24/2006 Coll., environmental impact assessment act