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Every project facility must obtain an environmental licence from the Ministry of the Environment. The licence must be obtained before the project is started. An environmental licence is an authorization from the environmental authority to carry out work or a project which may cause damage to renewable natural resources such as water, air, fauna, flora, or landscape. The licence specifies the requirements and conditions that must be met, and the consequences of non-compliance.

Interested parties must submit to the competent environmental authority an application which includes the following: a description of the project; the environmental characteristics of the area; information concerning the inhabitants of the area; and information concerning any effects on the Natural Parks System.

On the basis of this information the environmental authority will decide if the applicant must then submit an 'Environmental Analysis of Alternative Options' or a 'Study of the Environmental Impact', and also define the 'Terms of Reference'. This is a study supplying information for the evaluation of the options available for the purpose of minimizing the negative impact on the environment, and of optimizing the use of natural resources.

This study must contain a detailed description of the project, its negative effects on renewable natural resources and the environment in general, and a plan for limiting and managing such effects.

Once an environmental licence has been granted, the beneficiary of the licence will be responsible for any damage resulting from the non-fulfilment of its terms, provisions, conditions, requirements and obligations.

Luis Nieto

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