Czech parliamentary committee supports wider public participation in building permitting

by   CIJ News iDesk III
2023-03-17   15:51

The Nature and Landscape Protection Act could include the possibility of broader public participation in building permitting procedures. The relevant amendment proposal was supported today by the parliamentary committee for public administration. The committee today considered amendments to the new law on the Unified Environmental Statement (UES) and a related amendment law amending other environmental laws.

Under the new proposal, conservation societies would once again be able to participate in permitting procedures related to the newly introduced JES, which relate to the felling of trees or exemptions from prohibitions for heritage trees, specially protected species of plants and animals. Both the Public Administration Committee and the Environment Committee came up with the proposal. The House is expected to decide on them with the JES Bill and related amendments to the Building Act and amendments to other laws on Friday, March 24.

Since 2018, associations have been unable to participate in much of the permitting process under the Building Act. The ombudsman Stanislav Křeček also advocated for their re-involvement in the permitting process this January. Křeček had previously addressed members of both of the aforementioned committees and warned them that associations can be of great help in permitting procedures.

The committee, on the other hand, did not recommend approving a similar proposal by Pirate MP Klára Kocmanová, which would restore the participation of associations in administrative proceedings in the Nature and Landscape Protection Act. This concerns associations whose main mission is to protect nature and the countryside, and they will have to notify their participation in the proceedings in writing. According to the rapporteur, Jiří Havránek (ODS), the motion was not put to the vote because MEP Kocmanová had tabled it on another bill.

Michaela Opltová's (STAN) proposal, which, among other things, provides for a mandatory prior consultation of the applicant for an opinion with the authority which is to issue the JES, met with a positive recommendation from the committee. The aim of this consultation should be to identify in advance the specific environmental protection interests that the authority should consider when issuing the opinion.

The Committee has taken a negative stance on the proposal by Monika Oborná (ANO), who wants to maintain the provision in the Agricultural Land Fund Protection Act facilitating the removal of Class I and II land from the land fund.

The new bill on the Single Environmental Statement (SES) is intended to merge the permits of all environmental authorities before the construction process. It is intended to replace the permitting processes under up to nine existing laws. The change is expected to bring greater clarity and readability for builders and investors and will speed up the permitting processes. The Committee supported the postponement of the new NPS Act from 1 July this year to 1 January 2024.

Source: CTK