The Government of the Republic of Slovenia estimates that without adequate state actions the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic on the construction sector will be significant. Accelerating investments in the construction industry makes an important contribution to mitigating the negative effects of the epidemic to the Slovenian economy.
On 30 April 2020, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted an Amendment Act, amending the Act Determining the Intervention Measures to Contain the COVID-19 Epidemic and Mitigate its Consequences for Citizens and the Economy (“Act”) introducing new intervention measures regarding construction. With the Act Determining the Intervention Measures to Mitigate and Remedy the Consequences of the COVID-19 Epidemic (“Third Corona Act”) the intervention measures pertaining to construction were prolonged until 31 December 2021.
Below is an overview of relevant changes in obtaining a construction permit.
Obtaining a construction permit
Pursuant to the Act, the procedure for obtaining a construction permit for a facility with environmental impacts within the so-called integrated procedure is simplified. A request for the issuance of a construction permit will be considered complete as long as the documentation from Article 35, Paragraph 2, lit. 1 of the Construction Act, and the environmental impact report, are enclosed to the request.
The evidence regarding the right to build must be disclosed prior to the issuance of the permit, but not upon filing the request. If the competent authority determines that only this condition is not fulfilled, the investor will be granted an additional 15 days to prove the right to build, otherwise, their request will be rejected.
If the environmental impact report evaluates the investment affecting the environment as unfavourable, the investor may initiate the procedure for determining the prevailing public interest. In such a case, the investor must disclose all necessary evidence in accordance with laws governing nature conservation. The proposal is filed with the request for the issuance of a construction permit, and the procedure for determining prevailing public interest is carried out in the integrated procedure. Certain exemptions from the applicable laws are also permitted if deviations from water protection objectives are determined.
Many construction projects will be expedited since the investor will have the possibility to begin construction, reconstruction or change of the intended use of the facility on their own responsibility even before the construction permit is final, as long as the permit is final in the administrative procedure and (if applicable) the commencement of construction has been registered.
Before the adoption of the Act, an investor responsible for the intended activity affecting the environment, who had filed an environmental consent application before the adoption of the Construction Act, could only request the issuance of a construction permit after obtaining a final environmental consent pursuant to the Environment Protection Act.
With the adoption of the Act, this procedure is much simpler. If the investor requests the issuance of a construction permit in the integrated procedure, the ongoing environmental consent procedure continues as the procedure for obtaining a written opinion on the acceptability of the intended construction, once an opinion-giver is requested to provide an opinion by the competent authority. When issuing an opinion, the Slovenian Environment Agency must consider the then-current state of the procedure and the opinions of opinion-givers, which were already given in the environmental consent procedure.
The role of NGOs and accessory participants
The accessory participants from the environmental consent procedure will lose their status, but they will be granted rights pursuant to the Construction Act. A non-governmental organisation (“NGO”) shall have the right to participate in the procedure for the issuance of a construction permit if, at the time of notification of participation, the following conditions are met:
- An NGO organised as an association (“društvo”) must have at least 50 active members.
- An NGO organised as an institute (“zavod”) must have at least three full-time employees with an appropriate education in the current and the previous two calendar years.
- An NGO organised as institution (“ustanova”) must have at least EUR 10,000 of assets in the current and the previous two calendar years.
NGOs and accessory participants must file a notification of participation within 15 days from the day when the request for the issuance of a construction permit is published on e-government websites.
With the Act, the deadline for submission of a lawsuit against a construction permit by a party or an accessory participant in an administrative dispute is amended, so that it may be submitted within 15 days from the publication of the decision on e-government websites. An NGO may only exercise legal recourse if the conditions described above are met.
All court proceedings conducted based on exercising rights from the administrative proceedings for obtaining a construction permit will be considered as urgent and priority matters.