The Finnish Government has submitted a bill (HE 257/2014 vp) to the Parliament for amending the Finnish Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and Land Extraction Act. The government bill includes three essential amendments to the currently valid legislation.
1. Merging of environmental and land extraction permit procedures
In certain cases the EPA and the Finnish Land Extraction Act require separate permit procedures for one project. These procedures are proposed to be merged into a joint procedure following the procedural rules of the EPA as of 1 July 2016. The aim is to expedite and simplify the permitting process by avoiding overlapping hearing and appeal proceedings.
2. Abandoning of regular permit regulation reviews
As a rule, environmental permits are granted as permanent permits but the permit regulations are subject to review. Until now, the review schedule of permit regulations regarding operations that are subject to environmental permit on the basis of national legislation is stipulated in the permit. However, according to the government bill, the current review procedure is proposed to be repealed and replaced by an obligation for the supervisory authority to follow the existence of grounds for permit revision. Should the need for revision be at hand, the supervisory authority may submit an application regarding the amendment of the permit regulations to the permitting authority.
According to the government bill, the environmental permits may be granted for a fixed term too in the future if considered necessary due to operations characteristics, uncertainty related to harmful impacts or novelty of the technology used.
3. Alteration of operations
Furthermore, changes are proposed to the permit procedure in case of material alteration of an activity for which a permit has already been granted. The application of a full permit procedure including all permit procedure phases is proposed to be restricted to the most material alterations only. A shorter procedure or a notification of the alteration would instead be applied in most cases.