Everyday operations in business and industry, transport, household activities – everything leaves an imprint on nature. Usually these negative influences go unnoticed. However, all this in the long run is extremely harmful to nature and at any moment can turn like a boomerang against us.
Poisoned ecosystem will mean poisoning of water and food, as well as the air that reaches us. Only pollution of the atmosphere leads to a shortening by many years of the period for which humanity will continue to have a hospitable living environment here on Earth. That is why we must show responsibility.
This happens at different levels, starting with the individual efforts of each of us, going through the environmental responsibility of different businesses and entire industrial sectors and coming to what is being done nationally, regionally, internationally and globally. Today, almost all governments worldwide have begun to take preventive and restrictive measures against pollution. One of these measures is the implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Nature of the process
EIA is a legal instrument, required by law, a procedure mandatory for any investment proposal that is implemented in the EU. The framework for it is set by the EIA Directive It is it that regulates the order and procedures by which the evaluation is performed for each investment project.
In Bulgaria the relevant legislative texts have also been introduced, with the help of which the European framework on the topic has been transposed. There is a very wide range of business areas that are subject to environmental assessment. These include, for example, infrastructure construction of roads and motorways, as well as railways, factories, mountain lifts and production facilities of electricity and waste processing.
However, you will be surprised how small investment proposals can be subject to EIA – including a variety of wells, farm buildings, etc.
Environmental assessment as a basis for sustainable development of any investment project
If we violate the requirements of the EIA, for example, in case of damage to the environment, etc., we may be sanctioned and our project may be suspended.
If we believe that a negative assessment received is unfair or inaccurate, we can appeal it. Accordingly, a positive assessment can be appealed by citizens who do not agree with it.
The court has the power to revoke or impose EIA obligations.
Once received, the green light under the EIA has a statute of limitations of 5 years. After their expiration, the assessment is no longer valid and in case of a wish to restart the project must be re-examined by the environmental regulator.
EIA consultation – why do we need it?
Whether an environmental assessment is needed for a project is decided either by the MoEW or its units by region. It is recommended that you conduct consultations on the impact of your investment on nature at the very beginning of the work.
A notification must first be prepared and submitted to the relevant authorities. It must contain data about the project, its key parameters. Then the authorities issue an opinion on whether an evaluation report should be prepared, EIAR.
If it is deemed that a proper report should be prepared and submitted after this has been done, the authorities shall issue an assessment of it within a period of 1 month. The evaluation can be positive or negative A positive evaluation is a kind of green light for the project. In that case, he is considered to have complied with the requirements of the Directive.
Other times, the authority may be critical and not allow enforcement until the necessary measures are taken to address identified irregularities.
Some texts appearing in the Law on Environmental Protection in Bulgaria are in connection with other normative acts. These can be water and waste management laws, as well as soils, biodiversity, clean air, and more.
Accordingly, an interdepartmental commission has been formed and specially appointed, which assesses the environmental impact in its various aspects. It is attended by experts and representatives of various departments and ministries, such as health, agriculture, as well as regional development and public works.
In case of necessity of obligatory carrying out of ecological assessment for the respective spheres, the expenses can be set under the Operational Program “Environment”. These projects must have pre-approved, if applicable.
Separately, in 2018 an attempt was made to reduce the bureaucratic burden on investment projects that require a complex permit plus EIA and safety report. They were given the opportunity to apply for a procedure, uniting the three in one.
Preparation of complete documentation by a competent person
The law stipulates that the environmental assessment must be performed by an independent team. The authors of the EIA report describe the methodology they use and certify that the statements they set out in it are true.
What is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) service?
The degree of negative consequences in the environmental assessment reports is assessed by first considering all aspects of pollution that will arise as a result of the project. This includes the waste that is to be generated, as well as the harmful substances that will be released into the environment. Vibration and noise pollution, as well as radiation, are also calculated.
Human health risks are calculated using a matrix. The conclusions on this part are described separately in a separate part of the EIAR.
Bulgarian legislation describes what should be included in the EIA report. It is necessary to give a detailed description of the various features of the investment proposal. Everything necessary is painted, such as area, raw materials and materials for its construction, consumables after commissioning.
The characteristics of the ecosystem in the area where the work will be performed are also considered:
- flora and fauna
- earth bowels.
If it is considered that any of the project activities may endanger the surrounding nature, then we should try to calculate the extent of this negative impact. If the negative footprint is within acceptable limits, we can proceed by applying some different alternatives to reduce them even more. The EIA should also set out the forecasts for the impact of the project on the environment in the future.
MoEW is obliged to give public access to each EIAR for 1 month before the date set for discussion. To date, they are announced on the website of the ministry