• Certain investments require environmental impact assessment and issuance of a decision on environmental conditions.
  • This is prescribed in the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 9 November 2010 on projects which may significantly affect the environment.
  • Participants in the consultations on the assessment include social and ecological organisations, owners or perpetual usufructuaries and residents of nearby areas.

Initiation of certain investments triggers the need to carry out environmental impact assessment and issue a decision on environmental conditions. This is necessary to obtain the construction permit. The purpose of such assessment is to determine the extent of the investment’s impact on the environment and to find solutions reducing or eliminating the risk of negative consequences of the construction. The consultations may also help to establish if the investment may compensate the negative consequences it has produced.

Over 150 investment types require environmental assessment

The types of projects in which environmental impact assessment is obligatory are set out in the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 9 November 2010 on projects which may significantly affect the environment. Additionally, legal provisions specify the types of investment that may pose a potential threat.

Investments that may significantly affect the environment include, without limitation, installations for the production of substances with the involvement of chemical processes and for manufacturing basic pharmaceutical products or conventional power plants, combined heat and power plants and other installations for combusting fuels to generate electricity or heat. The Regulation lists over 50 such investments. More that 100 additional types pose a potential danger. When planning a new investment, one should always start with becoming acquainted with the relevant regulations to allow for the issuance of a decision on environmental conditions in the timetable of the construction works – says Jacek Kosiński from the law firm Jacek Kosiński Advocates and Legal Advisers.

Social consultations may delay the investment

The authority competent to issue the decision on environmental conditions depends on the type of investment. In the case of projects executed in closed areas and executed in sea areas, the addressee of the application should be the regional director for environmental protection or the Director of the Regional Water Management Board for Polish Waters. Exchange or division of land involves the need to apply to a starost and conversion of a forest belonging to the Sate Treasury into farmland to the director of the Regional State Forests Directorate. For remaining projects, the competent authority will be the mayor of a village or city.

In the process of environmental impact assessment, also the community may express its opinions. The legal basis in this case is the Act on the Disclosure of Information on the Environment and Its Protection, Participation of the Public in Environmental Protection, and Environmental Impact Assessments. If such assessment is obligatory for a given investment, participation of the public in the proceedings is necessary. Each citizen is free to make comments and requests, which might have a merely advisory character but are capable of delaying or even blocking the investment. This should be remembered already at the stage of planning the investment – adds Jacek Kosiński.