Until now, construction projects of any size below 10,000 square meters were not subject to an environmental assessment. However, it is not the size that determines whether or not a project is dangerous for the environment. To overcome this legal vacuum, and to comply with European legislation, the government has just published a decree, called the “net clause”. From now on, even small projects could be subject to an environmental assessment, at least on paper.
A decree, published in the Official Gazette on March 26, puts an end to an inconsistency in environmental matters. Until now, only large projects, over 10,000 m², could be subject to an environmental assessment. However, a project, no matter how small, can have harmful effects on nature, biodiversity, water or health. This was estimated in 2011 by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Taken in the wake of the association France Nature Environnement (FNE), the Council of State had asked the Prime Minister a year ago to take steps in this direction.
It does. From now on, all projects, whatever their size, whether real estate, industrial, agricultural or even energy, public or private, may be subject to an environmental assessment prior to their building permit. ” Environmental assessment, which can lead to an impact study, is one of the most important instruments for the environment and its rights. The lawyer Arnaud Gossement, a specialist on the subject, gives his opinion on Twitter. It is therefore a true paradigm shift that is taking place, putting an end to the false idea that only large projects pollute or damage the environment.
But the expected revolution could well be only theoretical. The decree, baptized as “clause-net”, specifies that the environmental evaluation must be requested by the administration, if it considers it necessary, within a period of fifteen days. However, public services do not always have enough staff to perform this service within the established time limits. The text also provides that the environmental assessment “will be able“, and not “should”, be requested by the project owner, “own initiative”.
“This decree is a true gas factory. The rules are incomprehensible to the contracting authorities, who are the first interested parties. What emerges is that the environmental assessment, and more generally, the environment, continue to be perceived by the central administrations French as a punishment. and not as an opportunity to improve the project. The decree reflects this. The problem is not legal, but cultural. We must stop thinking that protecting the environment is synonymous with economic slowdown.” pleads Emmanuel Wormser, France Nature Environnement volunteer and member of the legal council.
Concepcion Alvarez @conce1