In May 2023, amendments to the Law on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) came into force. The amendments also regulate the creation of the Unified Register of Strategic Environmental Assessment, which aims to make the post-war reconstruction process transparent and accessible to the public. Here’s how the updated Law will affect the transparency of green post-war reconstruction.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a procedure for identifying, describing, and assessing the impacts of individual projects and programs that affect the environment and human health. The development of SEA is part of the work on state planning documents: urban planning documentation, plans or schemes of projects that are subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure or that may affect protected areas and objects. SEA applies to all areas, from urban planning and energy to agricultural and water planning.
On May 19, 2023, the amendments proposed last year to the Law on Strategic Environmental Assessment came into force. The main changes include:
- Creation and administration of the Unified Register of Strategic Environmental Assessment;
- Liability for offenses in the field of SEA.
Unified Register of strategic environmental assessment
The Unified Register serves as a platform for posting SEA documents online. Public discussions begin from the moment of posting. The Register will help to systematize and unify SEA documents in one online environment open to the public. On May 23-29, the SEA procedure was available in test mode on the EcoSystem platform.
“According to the changes, the Unified Register should simplify several bureaucratic processes. First and foremost, access to the database means faster procedures,” comments Yulia Kvitka, EIA and SEA specialist of Ecoclub.
In May, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources held training on how to work in the Register for customers of state planning documents, local government figures, and executive authorities. Training for the general public will be held later.
Liability for offenses in the field of SEA
Previously, the Law did not provide for liability for violations in the SEA procedure. According to the new amendments, such offenses are:
- failure to implement the SEA;
- violation of the SEA procedure (cancellation of decisions of state authorities or refusal to approve documents, designation of targeted sites);
- failure to take into account the SEA results when approving state planning documents.
Those responsible for the offenses will be subject to disciplinary, civil, and administrative liability.
“To ensure that the Law covers the entire scope of the SEA procedure, it is also worth adding liability for the execution of SEAs of inadequate quality,” adds Yulia Kvitka.
Changes in the Scope of the Law
Earlier, in July 2022, an amendment was adopted to limit the scope of the Law on Strategic Environmental Assessment. According to the amendment, the Law does not apply to “regional recovery and development plans, plans for the recovery and development of territorial communities.” According to the amendment, the Law does not apply to “regional recovery and development plans, plans for the recovery and development of territorial communities.” According to these restrictions, SEA procedures are not provided for in post-war reconstruction planning. This situation contradicts the official position of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources:
“Strategic environmental assessment should be a key tool for post-war ‘green’ recovery,” comments Deputy Minister Olena Kramarenko.
For reference: The plans for the restoration and development of territorial communities are documents to be developed for the restoration and development of regions and territories affected by armed aggression against Ukraine.
“This change leaves the question of how environmental principles will be enforced during post-war reconstruction. How will the public know about the impact of proposed regional (local) development projects on their health and the environment?” adds Yulia Kvitka.
Ecoclub believes that the Law on Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be amended and improved. Read more about possible complications from changes to the EIA Law here: Ecoclub’s position.