Environment approval process ‘not to delay big projects,’ economy minister says
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Ecological concerns are rising over a new draft environmental checks. DHA photoTurkey’s government is set to pass laws to “improve the investment environment,” including regulations that will permit mining investments without waiting for environmental impact assessments (ÇED), Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said during a press meeting Sept. 27.
Çağlayan said private sector representatives were planning to make big investments but that the ÇED process posed an obstacle against them.
The minister said they would not abandon their sensitivities toward the ÇED but added that they aimed to simplify and accelerate the process. According to the new regulation, operations can start before the assessment, while the ÇED can be arranged accordingly.
The Prime Ministry will change the regulations in order to allow investments in the mining sector without waiting for the ÇED, he said. Necessary legal amendments, which will allow the commencement of investments in other sectors apart from mining, will be conducted through a series of laws, he added.
In the current system, a company must first make an application for an investment and can only begin operations after obtaining approval, Çağlayan said.
Preliminary permission will be given for projects to get off the ground while the ÇED is still pending, he said.
Çağlayan did not elaborate on what would happen if a ÇED recommended that an investment be stopped after having commenced.
The series of laws are expected to pass by the end of the year, the minister said.
Parliament passed a series of related laws in May, including a clause preventing any cancelation of big infrastructure projects on the grounds that they would harm the environment.
“Projects [that began] before June 23, 1997, and those that have already been planned or tendered or on which construction has already started on the day the law enters into force are exempted from an ecological impact assessment (ÇED),” the law states.