Environmental permitting is a key instrument for regulating a wide spectrum of industry’s environmental impacts, facilitating their compliance with environmental requirements and promoting technological innovation. Since the early 1970s, most OECD countries have introduced integrated permitting systems in order to protect the environment as a whole using best available industrial production methods.
Many Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) countries explore possibilities of progressively moving toward an integrated permitting system for industrial installations with significant environmental impact that would replace the current cumbersome and ineffective multitude of permits and licenses. While using the approach of the European Union’s Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (2008/1/EC) as the principal benchmark, EECCA governments will need to devise permitting systems that best suit their own legal and institutional arrangements, their own social, economic and environmental priorities.
Building on a “Review of Environmental Permitting Systems in EECCA”, the EAP Task Force Secretariat developed, in close collaboration with EECCA country experts, comprehensive Integrated Environmental Permitting Guidelines for EECCA Countries. They include strategic and procedural guidance for EECCA environmental authorities in designing an effective and transparent integrated permitting system for large industry while simplifying the permitting regime for smaller polluters.
The Secretariat also produced the Guiding Principles of Effective Environmental Permitting Systems – a concise policy document that describes the overall approach to reforming the existing environmental permitting systems. This document was endorsed at the Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Belgrade in 2007.
Using these guidance documents as a methodological basis, three country-specific programmatic studies on the design of a transition to integrated permitting were conducted in 2004-2006: in Ukraine, the Kyrgyz Republic and Georgia. Each study contained recommendations for the scope of application of the new system, the pertinent legal and institutional changes, and the transition schedule.
The Integrated Environmental Permitting Guidelines were also at the core of the training programme on integrated environmental permitting (2005-2008) delivered for environmental officials in each of the EECCA sub-regions, at the sub-national level in Ukraine, as well as for potential trainers across the region.