An Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") Report and a project presentation file should be prepared for investments/projects that may cause damage to the environment as per the Law on Environment numbered 2872. The Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation ("EIA Regulation") of 25.11.2014 regulates the administrative and technical terms and procedures that should be complied with during this procedure.

The Amending Regulation to the EIA Regulation ("Amending Regulation"), which entered into effect on 27 May 2017 introduced significant revisions and amendments to the EIA Regulation.

Upon review of this Amending Regulation, it is understood that the scope of projects that EIA procedure will be applied to has been broadened with respect to wind and solar energy areas and it also became possible to apply for incentives, approvals, permissions and permits before the conclusion of EIA procedures. On the other hand, revisions for expediting review and assessment procedure of EIA reports have been introduced with the Amending Regulation which may also increase the work-load of investors due to shortened periods. The revisions and amendments under the Amending Regulation are explained below:

Broadening the Scope of EIA for Wind and Solar Projects

Addendum-1 as the "List of Projects That EIA Will Be Applied to" includes projects which may be implemented by obtaining an "EIA Affirmative Approval" via preparing an EIA Application file and report as per the EIA Regulation.

With the Amending Regulation, the phrase of "wind power plants with 10-50 MWm installed capacity" is amended as "wind power plants with 20 and more turbines or installed capacity of 50 MWm and above". Also within this scope, the phrase of "solar power plants with installed capacity of 10 MWe and above" is altered as "solar power plants which have a project area of 20 hectares and more or with installed capacity of 10 MWe and above".

As seen from the above, the thresholds under Addendum-1 have been increased for both wind and solar energy projects, in addition the number of turbines and size of the project area are determined as benchmarks for thresholds. Therefore, an EIA procedure will be implemented if a wind power plant's installed capacity is below 50 MWm but it has more than 20 turbines.

"Projects That Selection-Elimination Criteria Will Be Applied to" which is Addendum-2 of the EIA Regulation, includes projects that either "EIA Is Required" or "EIA Is Not Required" should be obtained by preparing a project presentation file.

With the Amending Regulation the phrase of "wind power plants with 10-50 MWm installed capacity" is amended as "wind power plants with 5 and more turbines or installed capacity of 10 MWm and above which is below 50 MWm". The phrase of "solar power plants with 1-10 MWe installed capacity (except roof and frontal systems)" is revised as "solar power plants which have a project area of 2 hectares or with installed capacity of 1 MWe or above (except roof and frontal systems". The number of turbines and size of project area have been reflected to the thresholds as criteria under Addendum-2.

Applications for Incentives, Approvals, Permissions, Construction and Building Use Permits

The provision which requires obtaining "EIA Affirmative Approval" or "EIA Not Required" decision to be provided with incentives, approvals, permissions, construction and building use permits for projects that are subject to the EIA Regulation have been retained. However, with the addition of a sentence under the third subparagraph of Article 6, it is now possible to apply for incentives, approvals, permissions and permits during the EIA procedure.

Amendments to the EIA Procedure

The EIA procedure is commenced with the preparation of EIA application file and concluded by obtaining a EIA Affirmative Approval or EIA Not Affirmative Decision after submission of the EIA Report to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization ("Ministry"). With the Amending Regulation provisions which will expedite this procedure are introduced.

As per the amendment to the Article 10 of the EIA Regulation, the period for submission of EIA Report to the Ministry, from the issuing date of the special format by the establishments/corporations that are authorized by the Ministry, has been reduced to twelve months from eighteen months. With the Amending Regulation, the amendment period of three months as a result of the Ministry returning the EIA Report after its review has been reduced to a month.

As per Article 12 of the EIA Regulation, the maximum period for correcting deficiencies or making necessary amendments to the EIA Reports that has been suspended from review and assessment during the commission's review has been determined as twelve months. In addition, the commission shall consider whether sufficient level of data, information and documentation have been used for examinations, calculations and reviews under the EIA Report during its review.

Under Article 13 of the EIA Regulation a provision is also set out for the circumstances in which deficiencies are found within the EIA Report which was submitted to the Ministry following the commission's review. In such case, the deficiencies are required to be completed within ninety (calendar) days otherwise the EIA procedure will be terminated.

Capacity Increases

Capacity increased are regulated with the addition of Article 20 under the EIA Regulation. In case of a capacity increase the method for calculating thresholds in terms of EIA Affirmative Approval and EIA Not Required Decision is set out and it is also stated that effects of the planned project will be evaluated cumulatively together with the environmental effects which formed a basis of the current decision.

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.