How do I legally react, when the competent authority does NOT grant me an AEPO (Environmental Conditions Approval Decision)?
Sometimes in practice, instead of an AEPO being granted and the annulment petition being imposed against it, when it is legally defective for various reasons, the competent authority REFUSES to grant these administrative acts.
Environmental licensing is now regulated by Law 4014/2011 "Environmental licensing of projects and activities, regulation of arbitrary in connection with the creation of an environmental balance and other provisions of the competence of the Ministry of Environment", as it applies, after its successive amendments. The environmental licensing of projects and activities is based on their impact on the environment. Accordingly, legislative categories are distinguished, depending on the severity and extent of the effects they cause on the environment.
The environmental impact study (hereinafter EIA) by the project planning and implementation body is considered the basis of environmental licensing.
The projects are divided into category A (A1 and A2) and B, depending on their consequences on the environment:
- Category A1 projects/activities: The competent authority for issuing AEPO is the Ministry of the Environment, while the environmental conditions are approved by the Minister of the Environment's YA.
- Category A2 projects/activities: The competent authority for issuing AEPO is the relevant Decentralized Administration. The approval of the environmental conditions is made by decision of the head of the competent General Directorate of the relevant Decentralized Administration.
- Category B: No EIA is required, but projects are subject to Standard Environmental Commitments (SEPs) that are an integral part of the required permits.
What is AEPO (Environmental Conditions Approval Decision)?
With the AEPO (individual administrative act), conditions, terms, limitations and variations are imposed for the realization of the project or activity, especially in terms of location, size, type, applied technology and general technical characteristics. Also, any necessary remedial or preventive measures and actions to monitor environmental means and parameters or compensatory measures are imposed. The terms concern, in order of priority, the avoidance or minimization of impacts or the remediation or restoration of the environment.
The AEPO is issued as follows for the individual project categories:
- A1: Issuance of a Decision to Approve Environmental Conditions within an exclusive period of ten (10) working days from the expiry of the period of stage ee) or a rejection decision, if the competent authority judges with reason that the negative environmental effects of the proposed project or activity are extremely significant even after the provision of special conditions and restrictions, as well as after their compensation.
- A2: Issuance of a Decision to Approve Environmental Conditions within an exclusive period of ten (10) working days from the expiry of the period of stage e) or a decision to reject, if the competent authority justifies that the negative environmental effects of the proposed project or activity are extremely significant even after the provision of special conditions and restrictions, as well as after their compensation.
Whatever individual differences the individual categories of projects may have, it is emphasized that the competent environmental authority carries out a completeness check of the completed file within an exclusive period of five days and either proceeds to the next stages or rejects the file if deficiencies are found. Failure to comply with this deadline has the consequence that the File is considered complete.
Is the issuance of AEPO mandatory?
Under conditions, varying by project category, the answer is that the Authority is simply obliged to ANSWER JUSTIFIEDLY about the effects on the environment from the planned project, since the previous stages of environmental licensing have been carried out and a largely "positive" conclusion was given to them.
How is the individual or the business protected from the Administration's refusal?
After the study of the file has been carried out by the specialized lawyer and engineer and it has been established that the Administration does indeed refuse to issue the AEPO and does not justify its position, an administrative appeal may be brought in the first instance.
If this does not work, the Council of State is competent, with a request for annulment against the refusal of extradition.