An investor planning to carry out a construction project should obtain all the required permits and administrative decisions before starting the work. One of them is the decision on the environmental conditions (further referred to as the “environmental decision”). Below we discuss the circumstances in which the environmental decision is required and how it can be obtained.
What are the premises for requesting the environmental decision?
The environmental decision should be issued when the planned construction project:
- always has a significant impact on the environment;
- has a potentially significant impact on the environment.
When does a project have a significant impact on the environment?
According to the law, projects which always have a significant impact on the environment, i.e. projects for which the environmental decision is required, include:
- facilities for the manufacture of chemical substances, such as mineral fertilizers or plant protection products;
- pharmaceutical product manufacturing facilities;
- coking plants;
- hazardous waste treatment facilities;
- highways and express ways, etc.
When does a project have a potentially significant impact on the environment?
Projects with a potentially significant impact on the environment include:
- hydropower plants;
- motor vehicle manufacturing facilities;
- production and repair shipyards;
- amusement parks, etc.
At what stage should the environmental decision be obtained?
The environmental decision should be obtained before applying for:
- a building permit;
- a decision on the conditions of land development and use;
- a license for underground waste storage, among others;
- a waste collection permit;
- a decision on the location of a strategic investment concerning the transmission network, among others.
Also, before notifying the construction of a structure, one must already hold a valid environmental decision in order to continue the administrative proceedings aimed at obtaining all the required permits and decisions.
Is the environmental decision unlimited in time?
No, the environmental decision is not valid indefinitely. The law provides that, as a rule, the applicant has six years from the issue date of the environmental decision to submit an application – for example for a building permit.
What documents should be submitted with the application?
The documents that need to be submitted with the application for the environmental decision include:
- environmental impact report or a project information sheet;
- cadastral map;
- extract from the land register, etc.
It should also be mentioned that the attachments may vary depending on the nature of the project and on whether a licence is required.
Who issues the environmental decision?
As a rule, the environmental decision is issued by the head of the municipality (for towns and cities – the mayor). However, for certain projects, the body authorised to issue the environmental decision can be:
- a regional director of environmental protection (for example, for projects that may always have a significant impact on the environment, such as roads or chemical substance transfer facilities);
- the General Director for Environmental Protection – for the construction of a nuclear power facility;
- a district governor (Polish – starosta) – in the event of consolidation, division, or exchange of land;
- a regional director of the State Forests – if a forest land is to be changed into an agricultural plot.
Before issuing the environmental decision, the competent body is required to consult other authorities specifically indicated in the relevant legal act.
What is the substance of the decision?
The environmental decision specifies, among others:
- type and location of the project;
- conditions for the use of the environment at the stage of project implementation;
- environmental requirements.
Before starting the procedure to obtain a building permit, it is important to consider whether the project has a potential impact on the environment and if the environmental decision is required. It should be noted that the environmental decision is not an indefinite decision, which is something to consider when planning an investment. Radkiewicz Lawyers Poland will help you to determine whether your intended project requires the environmental decision and will assist you throughout the entire administrative procedure (from drafting the application for the environmental decision to drawing up the appeal and finally – to lodging a complaint with the administrative court, if necessary).
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