Deregulation Proposed to Boost Infrastructure in Slovenia

By , 24 Apr 2020, 12:08 PM Business
Deregulation Proposed to Boost Infrastructure in Slovenia CC-by-0

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STA, 23 April 2020 - Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Andrej Vizjak announced on Thursday a deregulation of construction legislation that he argues will substantially speed up construction in this crucial period. "Every month of delayed investment in construction is a month lost and reduces budget revenue," he told the press.

Vizjak, who explained the proposed changes have been incorporated into the amendments of the first coronavirus crisis stimulus package, pointed to the pending recession. The changes "allow immediate launch of certain investments that are on hold now", he added.

A key segment of the proposed change envisages the integration of several construction permit procedures while ridding potential investors of the obligation to first obtain claims over the land slated for construction.

While legislation was changed in 2018 due to protracted proceedings - in particular environment-related challenges - to allow a construction permit to be obtained simultaneously with the environmental permit, this "integral procedure" would now no longer require investors to first prove their claim over the land in question.

The government argues that this condition has often been impossible to meet in more complex construction projects and that it also made no sense to try to obtain such rights before the environmental review is completed.

Moreover envisaged to be running simultaneously with the "integral procedure" and not after it is the procedure needed for investors to be allowed to override the public benefit of preserving the environment with other public benefits.

Notably, the changes would also affect projects that were subject to the environmental permit phase before the 2018 changes. All these projects would be allowed to automatically enter the integral procedure.

Another major change, which Vizjak said would for instance speed up the construction of the expressway meant to connect the Koroška region in the north with Dolenjska in the south, is a provision allowing construction to start as soon as a building permit is issued and not only after the decree is final.

"Many construction projects are on hold today because of appeals, even in cases where these appeals are unfounded and only serve as extortion," he said.

Some of the appeals have been initiated by small NGOs, which would no longer be possible with the changes, as these stipulate NGOs need to have at least 50 members to be able to challenge permits.

Appeals would also need to be filed within 15 days after a permit decree is published and all challenges would be labelled as a priority.

What is more, the government wants authorities issuing opinions in permit procedures to do so in an unambiguous fashion and without ensuing contradictions. In case the opinions are negative, they would also need to include proposals on how to make an investment feasible.

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