The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced the implementation of the executive regulations for environmental permits for the establishment and operation of activities in the Kingdom, based on Article 48 of the Environment Law issued by Royal Decree No. (M / 165) dated 11/19/1441 AH, and Cabinet Resolution No. (729) dated 16 / 11/1441 AH.
The provisions of this regulation apply to all persons who are owners or operators of any activity that has an environmental impact (new or existing) within the Kingdom’s territory, including construction, operation, modification, addition, expansion and closure, and determines the scope of work of the National Center for Monitoring Environmental Compliance regarding construction and operation permits for these activities.
In addition, the regulation has classified activities into three categories according to the environmental impacts resulting from them, and accordingly its need to conduct an environmental impact assessment study or not, so that the center classifies activities or revises their classification according to their environmental impacts into the categories specified in this regulation, according to the type and volume of activity, energy used, activity depletion of natural resources, land uses, and sensitive receptors in the areas surrounding the activity, in addition to the characteristics of the various environmental impacts.
The ministry indicated that among the basic requirements for obtaining an environmental permit for construction and operation in the regulation is to conduct an environmental impact assessment study for the activity, the center’s approval of the environmental management plan, and the environmental rehabilitation plan (for activities specified in accordance with the implementing regulations for environmental rehabilitation) prepared by a service provider authorized by the center according to the controls and requirements prepared by the center and after the payment of the fee, in addition to the center’s approval to study the environmental impact assessment of the activities of the second and third categories.
The regulation stressed the need to take the environmental impact assessment into consideration within the feasibility studies and the initial designs of activities, and the center may not accept the environmental impact assessment study or cancel any previous approval thereof in the event that the permit applicant splits the activity and submits studies in several stages in a way that prevents it from being able the center did not properly classify the activity or verify the existence of negative environmental impacts resulting from the activity.
It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has started implementing a number of environmental regulations, including: the executive regulations for environmental inspection and auditing, the executive regulation for the environmental rehabilitation of degraded sites and remediation of polluted sites, the executive regulations for developing vegetation and combating desertification, and the executive regulations for substances that deplete the ozone layer and HFCs in the Kingdom. Within the Ministry’s national strategy to achieve sustainable environmental development, leadership aspirations, and 2030 Vision goals.
Rifad El-Hachem Debek
Middle East Legal Expert