Finnish Permitting Process
Permitting requirements in Finland
In order to lay pipelines within the Finnish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), two permits are required: the Government Consent for the use of the Finnish EEZ (the exploitation right) according to the Finnish EEZ Act and the permit for pipeline construction and operation according to the Water Act. Prior to submission of the permit applications, the national Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure is applied to the project. The EIA procedure in Finland includes the assessment of potential transboundary impacts in accordance with the Espoo Convention.
The timeline for the Finnish EIA and permitting process:
Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure in Finland
The national Environmental Impact Assessment procedure according to the Finnish EIA Act and Decree is applied to the Nord Stream 2 project within the Finnish section of the route. The coordinating authority for the EIA procedure is Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and the developer is Nord Stream 2 AG.
The aim of the EIA procedure is to evaluate the environmental impacts of a project, to ensure that consistent information on the impacts is available during planning and decision-making, to provide the public with information and the opportunity to participate in the process. International consultation is held in accordance with the Espoo Convention and the environmental impacts assessed in the transboundary contexts i.e. from Finland to a neighbouring country (Affected Party).
The Finnish EIA legislation defines the two phases of the EIA procedure – the EIA programme and the EIA report phase.
The EIA programme is the plan for necessary studies and arrangements for the assessment procedure. The EIA Programme and Project Information Document (PID) were submitted to the coordinating authority, who made them available for public consultation. During this public hearing period, statements from various authorities, citizens and non-governmental organizations were requested and public meetings were held. Also, in the context of the Espoo convention, statements from Affected Parties were requested on the basis of the EIA Programme and the Project Information Document (PID). Based on the opinions and statements received, the coordinating authority issued its statement on the EIA programme. The first phase of the EIA procedure was completed in 2013.
In the second phase, based on the EIA programme and the coordinating authority statement, the actual environmental impact assessment was carried out and the results compiled in the EIA report.
The EIA report describes the main characteristics and technical solutions of the project with a comprehensive assessment of impacts. The report includes assessments of transboundary impacts from the project in Finland. In addition, measures to prevent or mitigate adverse environmental impacts are included. Transboundary impacts to Finland are presented in the Espoo Report.
Nord Stream 2 submitted the EIA report together with the Espoo Report to the coordinating authority in early 2017, after which the coordinating authority made the documentation available to the public in April. The duration of the public display was two months. During this period, Finnish authorities, citizens and other interested parties had the opportunity to provide statements and opinions on the EIA documentation. Also international opinions and statements were requested.
The coordinating authority then compiled the public statements and opinions and issued the coordinating authority's statement on the EIA report on 27 July, 2017. This statement concluded the EIA procedure. The EIA report and the coordinating authority's statement will be considered in the permitting procedures.
Permitting procedures in Finland
Now that the EIA procedure has been concluded the two permit applications will be submitted to the permitting authorities in September, 2017.
The authority handling the process for the Government Consent for the use of the Finnish EEZ is the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The EEZ permit application will be sent out for statements and public hearing by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Nord Stream 2 will have the possibility to provide additional information based on received statements.
The Regional State Administrative Agency Southern Finland handles the permit for pipeline construction and operation according to the Water Act. The water permit application will be sent out for statements and public display by the permit authority. Nord Stream 2 will be provided the possibility to provide additional information based on received statements. The decision is taken by the Regional State Administrative Agency, Southern Finland.
In addition to these, Nord Stream 2 has applied and been granted a permit from the Government to run seabed surveys in the Finnish EEZ in December 2015.