Deputies deprive the country of environmental legislation

Press release - 24 July, 2006
Environmental impact assessment and ecological supervision can be cancelled under the pretext of the presidential program “Affordable Housing”. The draft Federal Law “On Introducing Amendments into the Town Planning Code of the Russian Federation and Other Laws of the Russian Federation”, proposed by deputies from United Russia, threaten to deprive the country of the environmental legislation.

State Duma building

The draft law No 317064-4 was submitted to the State Duma on July 5 by the United Russia deputies M.L. Shakkum, V.N.Yeltsov, A.E. Khinshtein, V.I. Shport, P.P. Kamshilov, D.V. Sablin, V.S. Pleskachevsky and E.I.Bogomolny. The explanation note to the document states that the law is "aimed at eliminating administrative barriers in order to increase housing construction volumes, as well as to improve mechanisms of engaging land plots in the economic activity for the purposes of housing construction".

However, most proposed amendments refer to non-residential objects. Most serious amendments are to be introduced in the Federal Laws "On Environmental Impact Assessment" and "On Environmental Protection". The developers propose to cancel environmental impact assessment of all town planning and land development documentation, as well as to cancel obligatory environmental impact assessment for all economic objects.

Furthermore, according to the new draft law, environmental and sanitary and epidemiological supervision will be carried out by the state construction supervision bodies.

What does this mean? Environmental impact assessment and ecological supervision are the only functional mechanisms to ensure fulfillment of constitutional rights of citizens to the healthy environment and reliable information about it.

"If the new law is passed all ecological barriers will be eliminated", says the Greenpeace Russia expert Mikhail Kreindlin. "Cancellation of the environmental impact assessment of documents of land planning and construction will enable constructing any industrial facilities, including nuclear power plants, anywhere - even in a city park. The opinion of local residents will be totally neglected".

If the state construction supervision bodies are entrusted with environmental supervision functions, most economic objects will not undergo environmental assessment because construction rules and standards often do not require observation of the environmental legislation. "It's easy to imagine, adds Mikhail Kreindlin, that lack of environmental control will result in refusal of customers to ensure environmental safety of their constructions, which will inevitably lead to higher incidence of man-caused catastrophes and damage to the environment in many regions of the country".

Furthermore, it was proposed to exclude the article about obligatory state environmental impact assessment from the Federal Laws that have nothing to do with housing construction. These are Federal Laws "On Exceptional Economic Zone", "On Continental Shelf", and "On Protection of Population and Territories from Natural Disasters and Man-Caused Emergencies" (in the part of project documentation for construction of highly dangerous objects).

"Most probably, the deputies who proposed these amendment want to use the Affordable Housing scheme as a pretext to push another anti-national and anti-environmental law", says Mikhail Kreindlin. "Besides, from the perspective of environmental legislation, this law will bring Russia back to1970s - the time of river shifting projects".

For further information please contact:

+7 495 926 5045 Mikhail Kreindlin, Ivan Blokov.   Note to editor:

The text of the draft law is available at the official website of the State Duma in the "Legislation" section.  

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