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Parliamentary questions
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6 February 2020
P-000741/2020
Priority question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 138
Heidi Hautala
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Environmental impact assessments and right of interested parties to participate in decision-making procedures

The Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA Directive) aims to ensure a high level of environmental protection and to guarantee that environmental considerations are taken into account in the preparation of projects. According to the EIA Directive, interested parties must be given early and effective opportunities to participate in environmental decision-making procedures and to express their opinions to the competent authority before a decision is taken on an application for a permit, at a stage when options are still open (Article 6(4)).

This question is prompted by a mining project in Kolari, Finland, which is now at the environmental permit stage and whose EIA procedure was completed in 2014. In 2017, the project was granted a permit under the Mining Act (under appeal) concerning, inter alia, water and waste treatment areas relevant to its environmental impact. This decision was justified, inter alia, by reference to the EIA, the environmental report section of which was at the time found by the EIA contact point, the ELY, to be – in part – seriously defective.

The ELY concluded that the assessment of the combined effects of the mine and other mining projects in the region on the Muonio river could not be considered adequate and that this was a clear shortcoming in the EIA report. The combined effects on the Muonio river are one of the main impacts of the project to be assessed, as that river is (among other considerations) the most important salmon-breeding river entering the Baltic Sea. However, the ELY took the view that the shortcomings could be remedied by means of supplementary measures which should be incorporated in the permit procedures following the EIA, which meant that it was not possible to express any opinion on those supplementary measures in the context of the EIA while options for the project were still open.

In order to ensure the correct and uniform application of the law, I wish to ask:

whether the right to public participation requires essential information on environmental impacts, such as interactions with other projects, to be brought to the attention of the participants during the EIA, when different options for the project remain open, and

what measures the Commission intends to take to ensure the correct and uniform application of the EIA Directive?

Original language of question: FI
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