Aarhus Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the Czech Republic


Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the Czech Republic


The environmental impact assassement amended substantially in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is regulated in Act No. 100/2001 Coll., on environmental impact assessment. Some aspects of this EIA regulation are closely connected with the implementation of the Aarhus Convention. Based on objections of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee and of the European Commission, the Czech EIA Act was amended last year and the new version came into force on 1 April 2015. The amendment (Act No. 39/2015 Coll.) brings far-reaching changes of the conceptual model of the EIA procedure in the Czech Republic.
The EIA procedure is a specific procedure in the Czech Republic, separated from the “main” decision making proceedings (separated e.g. from territorial planning permitting, building permitting, facility operation permitting etc.). Up to now, the main requirements of the EIA procedure concerning the public were applied in the EIA procedure only, not in subsequent decision making proceedings. One of the main aims of the amendment was to ensure the public participation and the access to justice for the public concerned also in the subsequent decision making proceedings.

Main changes:

Before From 1 April 2015
The “Statement on the EIA” [the main outcome of the EIA procedure] was a “basic expert document for issuing a decision or measure” only, i.e. it was possible for authorities issuing decisions (e.g. territorial planning permissions) not to take account of the content of the statement or take it only partly if they gave reasons for it. There is a “Binding Statement on the EIA”, whose content is binding for authorities issuing final administrative decisions. It means that it is no more possible to permit an activity if the “Binding Statement on the EIA” is negative.
“Negative” conclusions to the fact-finding procedures (the result of the preliminary procedure, which in case of plans of Annex 1, Category II  declared that the plan does not need to be assessed with a “full” EIA procedure) were not contestable. It is possible for the public concerned – environmental NGOs to bring a lawsuit to an administrative court against a “negative” conclusion to the fact-finding procedure.
The public concerned had very limited possibility to participate in decision making (i.e. administrative) procedures taking place after the environmental impact assessment, based only on provisions of certain other (than EIA Act) laws (e.g. the Building Act, the IPPC Act). The new version of the EIA Act guarantees the possibility for environmental NGOs to take part in the whole range of proceedings subsequent to EIA procedure. Moreover, it enables NGOs to appeal to higher administrative authorities against administrative decisions taken in these subsequent administrative procedures regardless of their participation or non-participation in those administrative procedures.
The possibility of the public concerned to bring a lawsuit to administrative courts against final decisions on plans assessed in the EIA procedure was very limited, dependent on their participation in relevant administrative proceedings, and it was mostly limited to a procedural review only. The new version of the EIA Act allows environmental NGOs to bring lawsuits to administrative courts against final decisions (permits, licences, authorizations…) of administrative authorities taken in procedures subsequent to the EIA procedure. The judicial review shall cover both substantive and procedural issues. 

Hana Müllerová, 20 April 2015

Archive - Courses on the Aarhus Convention implementation:

The Institute of State and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic

are preparing a project of educational courses

Public participation in environmental decision-making
– how to meet the requirements of the Aarhus Convention

Special attention will be drawn to the public participation under the Czech law

  • in the environmental impact assessment,
  • in proceedings held under the Czech Building Code,
  • in administrative proceedings regarding the environment,
  • in judicial proceedings in administrative courts.

The courses will be held in the premises of the Academy of Sciences (Narodni 3, Prague 1) on 21 and 28 November, and on  1 and 5
December 2014. They will be held in Czech.

JUDr. Hana Müllerová, Ph.D. - Institute of State and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
JUDr. Petra Humlíčková, Ph.D. - Department of Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague