Rejection of studies and bureaucratic problems are pushing out investors
In the EU, the public participates actively and as a partner in the project, in order to achieve that the project is developed according to the plan and that it functions in order with regulations and technical standards.
Just before the elections, Administrative Court in Split cancelled the positive decision for the Environmental impact studies for the golf course with sport-recreational features on Srđ. The implementation process for the evaluation of the environmental impact is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environmental Protection which is crucial for the investments in Croatia, including energy investments, because those investments are under the jurisdiction of that Ministry from now on. We talked with the Head of Environmental Protection Activities, engineer Mirko Budiša regarding the process of the environmental impact studies who is employed in a company authorized for the production of environmental impact studies.
What is your experience regarding the public participation in evaluation process of the environmental impact studies?
The participation of the public and of civil society organizations is welcomed because of their constructive suggestions and because of their control over the procedure. Experiences are twofold. As we can see, the public is overwhelmingly against the solutions which are proposed in Studies of highly exposed cases because of environmental reasons, location reasons or because it is considered to be against public interests. For example, the studies of the modernization of oil refineries, cement factory, thermal power plant Plomin, Ombla, golf on Srđ, waste management centres etc.
The impression is that we are against everything and if we add the very known bureaucratic problem, we look like a Country which is unfriendly to the investments. We must be aware that we already have devastated economy, that we are an import-oriented and sentenced to debt in order to settle our obligations. Therefore, some of the projects that I have mentioned are necessary for some sort of serious economic activity.
What are the experiences in Countries in the EU?
Known media cases, where environmental activists are opposing the transport of nuclear waste, seeking for the protection of natural resources, flora and fauna, they are conducting campaigns for paying attention of the exploitation of gas and oil carried out by large corporations and similar. By the nature of my work, I am often in contact with several agencies for environmental protection in most developed Countries of the EU, so I had the opportunity to talk about this issue, and I participated in cross-border assessment so I have an impression of how it is done in some EU Countries. All that is defined by spatial planning documents is in one way representation of the Public Interest, which is not questionable in the later phases of documentation.
Studies of the environmental impact are used to prescribe the appropriate measures and to prescribe the use of best available techniques to ensure that during the operation of the procedure degradation of environmental quality will not cause. In this respect the procedures involve the interested public, in a proactive and partnership like way, with the intention that the project is implemented as designed and that it later works in accordance with the regulations and technical standards. To prevent emissions into the environment it is always possible to apply the techniques that are in compliance with regulations; the only question is how much the implementation of these measures costs.
It doesn’t seem like that in our country? Well, so you do not agree with the judgment by which the Decision of EIS for Golf on Srđ was cancelled, where exactly the civil society organizations are the holders of court case?
In general we have several problems and one of the important ones is the lack of trust and defending the opinions under any costs. In other words, the lack of cooperation and dialogue. Most of civil society organizations are working sincerely and by theirs own beliefs, as it was shown by the example of the Cvjetni trg in Zagreb. But there are those who have the desire that their opinion has to be accepted as the only correct one, and they are loud and aggressive in appearance. Because of that, sometimes people form the opinion which does not correspond with reality.
In the case of Srđ, the Court issued a judgment, that I as legalist, accept, but the explanation of that judgment did not convinced me that the Decision should be canceled. Reference to such legal practice may bring down almost any complex assessment process in the future. The paradox is the fact that when we speak about Srđ, the people who live there are unanimously supporting the project. I think that the people who ran the process and the people of the advisory expert committee did their job fair, competent and professionally.
Source: Večernji list, 20.10.2016., by Lidija Kiseljak