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New Environmental Assessment regulations are forthcoming


The Spanish Council of Minister has relayed to the Parliament for review and approval the Draft Law on Environmental Assessment, intended to unify the existing regulations on Strategic Environmental  Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment.

Spokemen for the government indicated that the new rules will “simplify and expedite the applications  while reducing  the legislative array of regulations and differences in procedures applied in this particular  subject  matter”, also describing the new law as “technically better and respectful of all guarantees, fostering the unity of markets and facilitating the task of economic operators”.

The reform intends to reinforce environmental protection by assuring the participation of all social and economic players, while providing for the mandatory assessment of all drillings required by the exploration, investigation and exploitation of hydrocarbons requiring the use of hydraulic fracture techniques (fracking)

It is also expected that the new rules shall reinforce the quality of the environmental documents to be produced and filed with the Administration. In fact, the government considers that economic operators will know in advance the technical level that will be required of the documents to be presented , which will be similar throughout the country.

The Minister of Agriculture,, Foodstuffs and Environment also pointed out that the new law shall foster sustainable development  by creating some 80.000 jobs, with a national economic impact of a thousand million Euros.

The new law is expected to put an end to the existing backlog of some 10.000 environmental assessment files pendind before the diferent administrations, with an average delay time of some 3,4 years.  In furtherance  of such goal, the new draft law reduces the time to decide on an application for a regular environmental impact assessment  while now considering voluntary some steps that are currently mandatory. The effectiveness of this proposal is doubtful.

The draft law will come into effect at national level immediately upon approval, but the different Autonomous Regions will have a year to implement the contents of the new rules.

We shall report in more detail once the draft law is passed and comes into effect.


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