On 26 May 2017, the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation has been amended to shorten the time frames for environmental impact assessment (“EIA”) process and to extend the scope of EIA requirement for solar and wind power projects.
I. Amendments regarding Solar and Wind Power Projects
Under the EIA Regulation of 2013, solar power plants installed on at least 20 hectares were subject to EIA requirement, while the EIA Regulation of 2014 changed this criterion as installed capacity of 10 MW. Similarly, for wind power projects, the eligibility criterion of 20 turbines under the 2013 EIA Regulation was amended as 50 MW installed capacity under the 2014 EIA Regulation. In 2016, the Council of State (Danıştay) rendered a stay of execution decision suspending the implementation of the relevant provisions of the 2014 EIA Regulation based on the reasoning that the EIA eligibility criteria were changed from size of the land and number of turbines to installed capacity without any legitimate grounds. A higher organ of Danıştay, namely the Assembly of the Administrative Litigation Chambers, upheld the stay of execution decision on 8 November 2016, and the lawsuit is currently pending.
In parallel with such stay of execution decision of Danıştay, the EIA Regulation has been amended on 26 May 2017 to revise the eligibility criteria to cover both installed capacity and size of the land / number of turbines as follows:
II. Amendments to Shorten the EIA Process
The recent Regulation also envisages amendments to shorten the time frames for the EIA procedures. Accordingly, 3-month period for payment of EIA fees have been shortened to 1 month and submission of EIA report has been shortened to 12 months from 18 months. In the event assessment commission established by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation does not render a decision with regard to the EIA report within 30 days, it will be deemed as a “positive opinion”. Furthermore, the time period for completing/correcting the documents has been designated as 12 months with the recent Regulation, as there was a legal gap which tend to cause delays in the assessment procedure. Lastly, “EIA Positive” or “EIA Not Required” decisions will no longer be required in order to apply for incentives, approvals, permits and licenses even though obtaining these are still conditional upon obtaining an “EIA Positive” or “EIA Not Required” decision.
 For more details of the stay of execution decision, please see our relevant client alert at https://www.cergun.av.tr/publication/recent-court-decision-on-environmental-impact-assessment-requirement-for-ppp-projects/
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