The Slovenia Times

NGOs can participate in environmental assessment


The court upheld in full a challenge by the environmentalist group Eko Krog against the Environment Agency (ARSO), which has been refusing to include NGOs in the preliminary assessment of whether a planned intervention requires a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and environmental permit.

Eko Krog said on Monday that the court said NGOs have the right to already get involved in the preliminary procedure and do not need to prove legitimate personal interest if they demonstrate the investment could have significant environmental consequences.

According to the NGO, this is a landmark case that helped prove that provisions of the Aarhus Convention and EU rules needed to be applied directly in preliminary procedure.

Eko Krog said ARSO's stance had been that NGOs could only appeal its decisions, which however did not put them on hold.

"This means an investor can continue their investment without having to examine environmental impacts. In the unlikely case of a successful NGO appal, the investor needs to go though with and assessment, but this often happens once the investment is already completed," Eko grog said.

In such cases ARSO only prescribes limiting measures or remedying measures if the investor fails to obtain a permit. The NGO believes everybody benefits from early involvement of the public and NGOs, as unnecessary costs and years of efforts by local communities are averted.

Eko Krog launched the administrative challenge in the case of a planned asphalt plant in one of the biggest municipalities in the country.

Several thousand people live near the location, there are business premises, a shopping centre as well as the country's largest storage facility for liquefied petroleum gas and a gas filling station in direct proximity.

Meanwhile, the decision comes after the government decided in mid-July to raise the basic threshold determining which investments require a preliminary assessment in the first place.

While arguing that sufficient protection will remain in place, the government said the changes, expected to halve the number of preliminary assessments, would reduce the administrative pressure on ARSO and speed up procedures.


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