Georgia

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EIA profile

Updated to: 25 February 2015

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Background

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Country contact

Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia 
Address: 6 G. Gulua Str., 0114 Tbilisi, Georgia
Website: http://www.moe.gov.ge/en/home

History of ESIA

In the period after independence in 1991 and until the legal establishment of EIA in 1995, hardly any EIA was conducted due to lack of investments caused by the instable political situation. Georgia inherited an EIA system that was developed by the Soviet Union. It was characterised by a quality review that is known as state ecological expertise.

After the adoption of the new Constitution of Georgia on August 24, 1995, EIA was introduced by the Law of Georgia on the Protection of the Environment (1996). The Law on Environmental Permits (1996) and the Law on State Ecological Expertise (1996) followed as specific laws on EIA. Detailed EIA regulations were approved by the environmental minister in 2002 and 2003. The EU provided support in developing legislation and regulations. Starting from the second half of the 90s, Georgia gradually started modernizing the EIA system in line with the EU and other international standards. The EIA legislation set up during the phase from 1995 until 2003 was considered as rather ambitious.

With the rose revolution in November 2003 a new phase started and EIA legislation was changed considerably. A new law on licences and permits (2005) was prepared by the Ministry of justice, followed by three laws on EIA regulations in 2007. The new law supports business investment by simplifying permitting procedures, including EIA. Integrated permitting was established. Most important changes in the EIA legislation were the following: the number of activities requiring EIA was limited, the time for review was shortened from 90 to 20 days, and the responsibility for public participation was transferred from the EIA authority to the proponent. The EIA legislation became thus less ambitious.

Legal framework

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Framework/Enabling law

The Law on the Protection of the Environment (1996)

National detailed regulation for ESIA

  • The Law of Georgia on Licences and Permits (2005)
  • Law of Georgia on Ecological Expertise (2005)
  • The Law of Georgia on Permits for Impact on the Environment (2007): defines procedures of the permit for impact on the environment.
  • Ordinance No 193 on legalization of the statute on "rules for conducting state ecological expertise" (2007)
  • Law of Georgia on Services of Environmental Protection (2008)  
  • Decree on Approval of the EIA Regulations (2011)

Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA

No sector specific EIA frameworks are available under current legislation.

Guidelines

A guideline on necessary procedures to receive the permit for Environmental Impact Assessment from the Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia exists.

Scope of ESIA application

All activities (public and/ or private, national and/ or foreign) imposing significant risks on human life or health relate to especially important or public interests or connect to use of country resources. These activities are specified under Article 4 of the Law of Georgia on Environmental Impact Permit, 2008.

Exemptions from ESIA application

There are provisions for exemptions. Exempted activities are not specified an activity may be exempted from EIA if: 

  • the requested permit repeats or continues an activity, which has already undergone an EIA procedure and a repeat of the EIA will not give the extra information;  
  • common state interests require that the activity be undertaken and the decision has been made in a timely manner.

There is a legal mandate for the competent authority to make exemptions on a case by case basis. The Minister of Environment Protection takes the decision on exemptions from EIA. Recommendations for it are provided by a special council on Environmental Impact that is formed by the MoE.

Institutional setting

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Central ESIA authority

The Ministry of Environmental Protection of Georgia is the central authority on EIA. It replaced the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources in 2011.

Other key (governmental) parties involved in ESIA, and their roles

  • The Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia becomes involved in the EIA system when an activity, subject to permit for impact on the environment, also requires a construction permit;
  • Ministry of Justice: Responsible for promulgating and enforcing EIA legislation;

(De)centralisation of ESIA mandates

The responsibility for all EIA processes lies with the national authority.

Payment system

The proponent bears the costs associated with the EIA process.

ESIA procedure - overview

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Overview ESIA procedure

The legislation does not require Screening and Scoping as formal steps of the EIA process. The assessment process is also not further specified. The review of the EIA report is required as it is part of conducting a State Ecological Expertise as a verfication mechanism of several documents submitted by the proponent in order to obtain the environmental impact permit afterwards. Compliance monitoring of the permit conditions is also required in Georgia.

Screening

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Screening process

Presently, there is no screening procedure defined for Georgia.

After receiving the project proposal from the proponent, the Department of Ecological Expertise and Inspection together with his staff and other experts of MoE makes a decision based on a provided screening list. The list of projects that need to undergo screening is provided by the 2007 Georgian Law on Environmental Permit. The screening decision is recorded and communicated in writing to the proponent

Scoping

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Scoping process

There are no requirements for scoping in the legislative framework.

Assessment

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Assessment process

The assessment process is not specified. Nevertheless, prior to submitting the final EIA report to MoE, the proponent is required to arrange a public hearing in a district administrative centre, where the activity is planned to be implemented. The proponent then submits the final EIA report to the MoE with regard to the comments of the public and other stakeholders.

Accreditation of consultants

The MoE has a register of consulting companies, however, there is no mechanism for their accreditation.

Review

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Review process

In Georgia it is common practice to conduct a preliminary review, even though this procedure is not formal. It provides the Ministry experts an opportunity to become familiar with the EIA report prior to the formal review procedure. The Ministry sends comments to the proponent who has the opportunity to address and eliminate gaps before the final EIA report is submitted for the formal review process. A preliminary review usually takes place before a public hearing. Its timeframe is with 40-45 days considerably longer than the one of the formal review process which is 10-15 days.

The formal review process is in Georgia the process of ecological expertise. It follows the permit application and is part of the official procedure for permit issuance. Ecological expertise is an essential measure that applies to project documentation that is submitted by the proponent as part of the application, among them the EIA report.

In general, the MoE is responsible for carrying out the ecological expertise and thus for reviewing the EIA report. In each particular case, a commission of experts is established that includes Ministry staff from different sectoral divisions. When needed, the MoE can also hire external experts to be part of the commission. The commission reviews the documents given by the proponent including an EIA report, a situation map, volume and types of possible emissions and a non-technical summary. The review also includes the comments from the public and other stakeholders. The commission then formulates a final statement of ecological expertise that can be positive or negative. The decision taken is relayed to the proponent who is required to inform other stakeholders including the public of the outcome of the process.

Review expertise

The legislation of Georgia does not envisage an independent examination of adequacy of environmental information given in the EIA report. The main verification mechanism is the State Ecological Expertise to be undertaken by MoE or hired external experts after the project proponent submits the application (including the EIA report) for obtaining the environmental permit. That the hiring of independent experts is optional is one of the major changes in the Law of Ecological Expertise compared to the ones from before the rose revolution in 2003.

Timeline Review

The informal preliminary review usually takes place within 40-45 days. The time frame for the ecological expertise is 10-15 days.

Decision making

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Integration of ESIA into decision-making

The EIA report is necessary for the final decision on the permit and the process of ecological expertise is integrated into the permit application. The outcome (positive or negative) of the statement of ecological expertise is an essential ground for issuing the environmental impact permit and the construction permit. The processes of ecological expertise and decision making are thus barely separated.

The environmental impact permit is issued by the MoE.

The environmental impact permit comes along with permitting conditions. The law on Licenses and Permits stipulates that the conditions and findings of the conclusion made by the state ecological expertise present the permitting conditions.

Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), 2004. Assessment of Effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) System in Georgia

Decision justification

Decisions by the decision-making authority are justified to the public if the public requests it. It is not clear if a reference to EIA information has to be made in the justification.

The proponent is informed of the decision in the form of the conditions to the permit. 

Timeline decision-making

The time line between the assessement by ecological experts and the issuing of the permit is 5 days.

Follow up

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Compliance monitoring

As part of the EIA report, it is a requirement for the proponent to  (i) determine methods of environmental control and monitoring; (ii) develops prevention and mitigation plan of identified or expected negative impacts on the environment; (iii) elaborates environmental strategy and management plan for each stage of the activity.

The monitoring of permit conditions and EIA implementation is not properly regulated in the current legislation as there are no legal procedural instruments for it. 
The Service of Environmental Protection (former Inspectorate of Environment Protection) is the controlling body. It is empowered to perform control and inspection of entreprises. Also the Law on Licenses and Permits enables for annalselective control through the body granting the permit. However, this procedure is not further regulated and the rights and responsibilities of the Service of Environmental Protection remains obscure.

Non-compliance penalties

If, after 3 penalties no improvements have been made, the permit can be suspended.

Stakeholder engagement

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Public participation requirements for ESIA process stages

Public participation is envisaged during the EIA report development stage only.

The legislation specifies that public involvement is implemented through the procedure of public hearings during the EIA report stage. The proponent organizes them. Firstly an announcement is made informing the public about the planned activitiy and leaving possibilities for the public to send comments to the proponent. Between 50 and 60 days after the announcement has been made, a public hearing is held. A hearing protocol is compiled afterwards.

The pubilc can make comments both orally and in writing. Oral comments are recorded in the form of meeting minutes which have to be signed by the proponent  and a representative of MoE.

The law requires that comments made by the public are considered in the EIA report. In case the proponent disregards any of the comments made, they are supposed to justify the non-consideration in writing to the concerned public.

According to the legislation, the permit for impact on the environment is issued on the basis of common administrative proceeding which does not envisage public participation. However, the General Administrative Code gives provisions that affected parties can apply to the MoE and require participation in the administrative proceeding. They can also participate in the proceeding. In practice this process and public participation is hampered though.

If the statement of ecological expertise has to make a reference to the outputs of public participation, is not specified.

The majority of the costs are for the public themselves.

Gugushvili Tamar. 2008. Observers Report. Environmental Impact Assessment Process in Georgia. Aarhus Centre Georgia
Caucasus Environmental NGO Network
Resolution No. 154 of 2005 on Approval of the Regulation on Rule and conditions for Issuance of Environmental Impact Permit (Article 3)

Timeline for public comments

Within 45 days after the public announcement has been made, the public can provide comments to the proponent.

Access to information

The developer is supposed to provide the public with information on the proposed activities prior to submitting an EIA report to the MoE. A notice containing (a) objectives, title and location of the planned activity (b) address, where public representatives will be able to get information (c) deadline for submission of comments (d) time and venue for public hearing. The information can also be requested by the public and local authorities.

Appeal

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Possibilities for appeal

There is possibility for appeal either to a superior administrative body or to the court of law. It is not specified who the superior administrative body is nor to which kind of court the appeal can be made (to be confirmed).

Appeals are possible for the EIA approval and the issuance of the environmental impact permit.

There is a possibility for appeal by any public representatives who deem their rights violated. The decision of the competent authority not to issue a permit can also be appealed against by the proponent. (to be confirmed)

ESIA practice

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Annual no. of ESIAs

Approximately 60 to 70 EIA based permits are processed annually.

Central ESIA database

Records of EIA are kept at a central place at the MoE. Reports older than 3 years are kept in an archive, reports that have been issued in the last 3 years are stored in office. An online database is being introduced.

Professional bodies

The following professional bodies have an interest in EIA:

  • (CENN) Caucasus Environmental NGO Network
  • Centre for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG)   
  • Environmental Information and development Centre  
  • Georgian Association of Environmental and Biological Monitoring  
  • International Centre for Environmental Research  
  • IUCN Programme Office for the Southern Caucasus 
  • LOBO – Union of Environmental Protection and Animals’ Rights   
  • Regional Environmental Centre (REC) for the Caucasus 
  • United Socio-Ecological Union of Georgia -SEU   
  • WWF Caucasus Programme Office Iakob Gogebashvili Telavi State University.   
  • Georgian Designated National Agency for International Data and Information Exchange.  
  • Scientific – Education Institute of Standardization and Meteorology.   
  • Committee on Studying Industrial Forces and Natural Resources.   
  • M. Rcheulishvili Sientific Institute of Biological Fundamentals of Stock Breeding.   
  • Institute of Water Management of Georgia.     

Relevant links

UNECE Arhus Clearing House - Georgia