Brazil: New environmental licensing rules will help speed up road construction

New government regulations of reduced time to investment approval will lower costs and deadlines to obtain licenses, with direct benefits to sectors such as road pavement and infrastructure, the market where Brazil Road Expo operates.
To fulfill the increasing demand for environmental licensing of infrastructure projects in the country, the federal government published on October 28 new regulations that reduce deadlines to obtain construction authorizations and costs to compensate for damages and impacts on the environment t and involved populations. The changes, involving areas such as roads, oil and gas, ports and transmission lines, include the adoption of a differentiated treatment to projects according to their potential for environmental impact and more detailed criteria to define activities of high and low impact on the environment.
These new rules play an important role in the demand for expansion and improvement of the road system in the country, which represents at least 65% of freight transport in Brazil. “This new policy, combined with the normalization of contracts with the Brazilian Department of Transport Infrastructure (DNIT), will ensure intensified rhythm in 2012”, explains Engineer Guilherme Ramos, Director of Quartier Feiras, the organizer of Brazil Road Expo. A combination of trade fair and congress, the event will be held from April 2nd to 4th, 2012 in São Paulo, gathering the whole segment of road pavement and infrastructure technology.
The government has received a significantly higher number of request for licensing. In the next ten years, estimates say that 16,419 km of roads, 23,140 km of railways, 31.5 thousand megawatts of power generated by new hydroelectric power plants and 32,450 km of transmission lines will have to be licensed, as well as R$ 1,4 billion investments in ports and increase in the production of 3,3 million barrels of oil.
According to the institute, the demands for licensing have grown around 700% in the last ten years and today 1,829 processes request for environmental licensing. In 2011, 414 environmental licenses have been granted.
The federal roads and other constructions without environmental licenses because they were approved before the new environmental legislation should be adjusted to the new system within max. 20 years. The plan will prioritize roads of higher traffic or with more risks of accidents. Constructions within the main areas of the road system already with licenses to operate will not require a new license, just a notification to Ibama.
Another change established in the new regulations published by the government is the maximum period of 90 days for the institutions, such as Funai (Brazilian Indigenous Population Foundation), Anvisa (Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency), Iphan (Brazilian Institute of Historic and Artistic Inheritage), Palmares Foundation and ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation), to analyze the environmental impact studies for Ibama’s licensing projects. Today, the institutions had no deadline to provide their analyses.
“In some cases, the deadline to obtain licenses may be reduced to half”, said Minister Izabella Teixeira. A differentiated treatment will be adopted to constructions of low environment impact. For example: the license of a transmission line that goes along a road will not require environmental impact studies.
According to Curt Trennepohl, president of Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), the new policy was developed to ensure higher legal security in the process analysis and keep up with the Brazilian growth dynamism. “We’re bringing Ibama to the required celerity without reducing the quality of studies and licenses.”
The procedures defined in the new regulations will also require more quality of environmental studies submitted by entrepreneurs. Ibama will request complementary information from the entrepreneur only once. Likewise, those interested in having a license should submit all explanations at once.
“If the studies are poorly elaborated, Ibama will refuse the license, and the request will be filed. No more stories of licenses that haven’t been granted because of Ibama’ failures”, said Izabella Teixeira, Minister of Environment.
With information from Agência Estado and Agência Brasil.
Source: Brazil Road Expo News Room