The legal framework of the EU require Member States to ensure the protection of the environment from the early planning stages of projects and activities, taking into account all the necessary measures for environmental protection and the mitigation of any negative impacts. For this purpose, environmental permits are required in a variety of situations, including regulating industrial emissions, waste management or pollution prevention and control. While the national implementation varies between countries (both within and outside of the EU), they usually include the following steps:
- The enterprise applying for the permit recruits an expert to conduct an environmental impact study.
- The enterprise compiles and submits the application together with the environmental impact study.
- The permitting authority verifies the application.
- Unless the project is smaller than a certain size, the authority then starts a consultation period. During the consultation, stakeholders submit comments on the application.
- Taking into account all comments, the authority then issues the permit, imposing conditions if necessary.
Environmental impact studies are carried out by applicant organisations or persons. Public authorities assess the expected impacts and measures and issue the relevant environmental permits for approved actions. In addition, citizens or their representative bodies can exercise their constitutional rights for environmental protection by monitoring the adequacy and effectiveness of the administrations decision-making process.