Turkey: New Regulation On Environmental Permit And License

The New Regulation is to introduce a more consistent, practical and clear practice to address the problems which previously caused delays in the implementation of the projects.

A new regulation regarding the Environmental Permit and License ("the New Regulation"), published in the Official Gazette on September 10, 2014 and numbered 29115, will go into effect on November 1, 2014 and the "Regulation on Permits and Licenses regarding the Environmental Law" ("the Former Regulation"), published in the Official Gazette on April 29, 2009 and numbered 27214, will be abolished. The New Regulation was issued and will be administered by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning ("the MoE").

The purpose of the New Regulation is to clarify the processes and procedures to be used in the applications for certificates, permits and licenses. Another purpose of the New Regulation is to introduce a more consistent, practical and clear practice to address the problems which previously caused delays in the implementation of the projects and have also caused financial losses to the project investors and operators.

Under both the Permit and License Regulations, it is required to obtain a single consolidated permit, which is valid for a period of five years, instead of obtaining separate environment permits (e.g., emission permit and water discharge permit). The New Regulation sets forth a temporary certificate, a "temporary activities certificate" and two types of permits, an (i) "environmental permit" (çevre izni) and an (ii) "environmental permit and license" (çevre izni ve lisansı). ("Permit or Permit and License") The environmental permit covers air emissions, environmental noise, deep sea discharge and hazardous waste discharge, whereas the environment license addresses the technical sufficiency of the applicant facility.

The facilities listed in Annexes 1 and 2 of the New Regulation must obtain either a Permit or a Permit and License. Activities deemed to have the greatest environmental pollution impact are listed under Annex 1, whereas activities deemed to have a less polluting impact are listed under Annex 2. Activities under Annex 1 must obtain a Permit or Permit and License from the MoE, whereas the activities listed in Annex 2 must obtain a Permit or Permit and License from the Provincial Directorates of the Environment and Urban Planning agency.

Pursuant to the New Regulation, temporary activity certificates may be executed electronically for one year, while the Permits or Permits and Licenses may be executed electronically for five years but may be renewed upon the application at least one hundred and eighty (180) days prior to the expiration date of such Permit or Permit and License. The renewed Permit or Permit and License should be obtained before the expiration of five years following the issuance of the relevant Permit or Permit and License.

The application, issuance and cancellation procedure for the "temporary activities certificate" which is required for the temporary activities of the facility and a pre-condition for issuance of the Permit or Permit and License, are stipulated in detail by the New Regulation. In order to obtain the relevant Permit or Permit and License, the applicant must first file an application with the Regional Directorate of the MoE for a temporary activities certificate (geçici faaliyet belgesi) that will be valid for a term of one year. The applicant should finalize the application process for the issuance of the Permit or Permit and License within one hundred and eighty (180) days and should obtain a permit or a permit and license within one year following the issuance of the certificate.

The time periods outlined in the New Regulation are expressly different from those in the Former Regulation. In case any documents are lacking during the temporary activities certificate application process, these documents should be completed within sixty (60) days following notice by the competent authority. The applications are examined within twenty (20) days following the completion and submission of the documents. The examination of the application process for the issuance of the Permit or Permit and License is restricted to sixty (60) days and the time limit for submitting the documents which are lacking is extended to ninety (90) days from the notice by the authorized application office as per the New Regulation, whereas the relevant time periods under the Former Regulation were both designated as eighty (80) days.

The New Regulation increases the documentary compliance burden and introduces new application requirements upon the change of ownership or the change of title of a facility. Thus, pursuant to the New Regulation, in situations where either ownership or title of the facility has changed, the facility should apply to the competent authority within three (3) months following the change. This can be accomplished by notifying the Trade Registry Gazette about such change, and by providing the capacity report and a letter of undertaking declaring that the facility will comply with the current environmental permit or environmental permit and license. Under the Former Regulation, with the exception of a transfer of the facility, the facility was only obligated to notify the competent authority about the relevant change.

The New Regulation introduces significant sanctions, such as the cancellation of the temporary activities certificate, Permit or Permit and License and the suspension of the facility's operation for 90 (ninety) days upon a determination that the license applicant provided any misinformation or misstatement regarding the documents. Furthermore, any Permit or Permit and License with a cancelled application may be subject to ascending administrative sanctions. Any Permit or Permit and License with a cancelled application may be subject to double the amount of the documentation fee set forth in article 19 of the New Regulation and an amount of four times the amount of the documentation fee in case of a re-cancellation. If an application is cancelled for a third time, the activity of the relevant facility shall be suspended for one year.

A temporary facility which is engaged in activities for less than a year will not be subject to any environmental permits/licenses upon meeting the specified conditions and notification to the Provincial Directorate of the Environment and Urban Planning. By contrast, the provision of the Former Regulation regarding the re-initiation of the permit/license application due to the nonoperation of the facility for three (3) years is not addressed in the New Regulation.

The fore-mentioned certificates, permits and licenses that were issued under the Former Regulation will remain valid until the expiration of the relevant document. Any applications filed prior to the effective date of the New Regulation shall be subject to the legislation which was in effect at the date of application.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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