Romania: Environmental permits and integrated environmental permits now need to be endorsed every year
Environmental permits ("EP") and integrated environmental permits ("IEP") are now subject to annual endorsement, according to the new procedure adopted by the Ministry of the Environment. Permitholders will have to apply every year for endorsement to maintain the validity of the permits.
The procedure for the annual endorsement of EP and IEP was approved by Order No. 1171/2018 ("Order 1171") issued by the Ministry of Environment in line with the latest amendments to the GEO No. 195/2005 on environmental protection regarding the validity of EP and IEP. Order 1171 entered into force on 15 November 2018.
Prior to this amendment, the validity period was five years for an EP and 10 years for an IEP.
Once Order 1171 came into effect, for both the EP and IEP to be valid the permitholder needs to apply annually for endorsement at least 60 days before the anniversary of the date when the EP or IEP was issued.
As the new legislative amendment does not regulate the situation of EP and IEP in force at the date of the change, the question arises whether EP and IEP remain valid until the end of the period for which they were granted under the old law (following which the renewed EP and IEP would be subject to annual endorsement) or if the new legal provisions have a retroactive effect and the EP and IEP in force at the time of the change will be subject to annual endorsement under the new procedure.
Although not yet regulated, the second option appears to be closer to the practice of the environmental authorities.
Therefore, the authorities now propose that EP and IEP holders request a review of their permits, after which they would specify that they are subject to annual endorsement.
As part of the annual endorsement procedure, an EP or IEP holder must submit the following documents to the relevant authority (the National Agency for Environmental Protection or, exceptionally, the Ministry of Environment and the Administration of the "Danube Delta" Biosphere Reserve):
- Application for approval of the endorsement;
- Annual environmental report, if required;
- A sworn statement that the activity is performed in the same conditions based on which the EP or the IEP was issued and that no other changes have occurred to the conditions set out by the permit.
The relevant authority will review the documents underlying the endorsement request within 10 days of submission and will establish the date for a site visit.
Following the site visit:
(i) if the authority acknowledges that the EP or the IEP complies with the conditions on site, it will issue the endorsement decision;
(ii) if the authority notices inconsistencies between the conditions mentioned in the EP or the IEP and those on site, a term of maximum 30 days to remedy such inconsistencies will be granted to the permitholder; if no remedy is made by the deadline, the authority will issue a decision dismissing the annual endorsement.
Sanctions for not complying with the new endorsement procedure
If annual endorsement of the EP and IEP is not obtained, the permit will expire and the holder will have to apply for a new one.
Since the new procedure does not specify how to proceed in respect of EP or IEP already existing at the time when Order 1171 came into force, to avoid risks and until an official position of the authorities is adopted, we recommend that EP and IEP holders request a review of the permits within the term stipulated by Order 1171namely at least 60 days before the anniversary of the date when the EP or the IEP was issued.
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