Transboundary permitting procedure

The Espoo procedure is a transnational hearing of potential transboundary project impacts, where potentially affected countries can opt to participate in the EIA process as it is described in the Convention on the environmental impact assessment in transboundary context. The Espoo procedure includes two steps: a notification of the project with an inquiry of potentially affected countries for participation in the EIA process, and a later consultation of the EIA documentation among those who have opted for participation.

A voluntary start-up meeting will be arranged with the Espoo authorities from all potentially affected countries to introduce the project and initiate the dialogue between the Espoo authorities. At the meeting, the project and the timeline for the project will be presented. A project information document will be prepared to be used in the notification process.

Furthermore, the EIA report will include an analysis of specific activities with a description of possible transboundary impacts. Based on this, the participating affected countries will be consulted, and their comments, together with comments from the national parallel procedures, will be part of the decision-making for the final acceptance of the project.

Public stakeholders will be involved two times: in notification (the scoping phase) and during consultation of the EIA documentation (after submission of the permit application). There will be a national and Espoo hearing period during the notification of the project, and again during the national and international consultation of the EIA.

The Espoo (EIA) Convention sets out the obligations of Parties to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of States to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries. The Convention was adopted in 1991 and entered into force on 10 September 1997 (see more – www.unece.org).