Environment ministry seeking to simplify environmental permits process

The Environment ministry on Friday unveiled plans designed to greatly simplify processes for issuing environmental permits and also to slash the number of environmental impact studies that need to be carried out and examined each year. The changes are to be included in a draft bill that is due to be ready in mid-September.
The ministry's aim is to reduce the number of environmental impact studies submitted for approval each year to about 2,000 instead of the current level of more than 21,500, bringing it more into line with EU averages.
The reduction will be achieved by waiving the obligation for an environmental impact study for projects having only a local impact on the environment, replacing these with automatic environmental guidelines, abolishing preliminary studies for the classification of projects (4,200 per year) and by making preliminary studies (2,800 per year) optional.
The new bill will also reduce the types of projects and activities requiring environmental permits, since Greek laws currently demand them for more projects and activities than are envisioned in European directives.
The relaxation of rules in terms of paperwork are meant to be offset by an increase in on-the-spot inspections and a stronger role for the environmental inspectors in ensuring adherence to environmental regulations.

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