New Chilean constitution won’t necessarily slow environmental evaluation – expert

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2022
New Chilean constitution won’t necessarily slow environmental evaluation – expert

The environmental provisions in Chile’s constitutional proposal will not necessarily cause a slowdown in evaluation processes, according to Rafael Castro, an environmental law expert at Montt Group.

During a webinar on the effects the constitutional proposal would have on environmental regulations, Castro said the smoothness of processes would depend on which aspects of the current constitution must be updated or scratched.

A plebiscite on the proposal is planned for September 4.

“Among other aspects, from the organic point of view there’s something very relevant related to the environmental courts that will be set up in every region,” Castro said in response to a question from BNamericas.

He added that these environmental courts could issue rulings even before administrative appeals – against approvals by evaluation agency SEA, for example – are exhausted. 

If the new constitution is approved, SEA officials will have to analyze during the two-year adaptation period if certain current regulations clash with the 81 articles related to the environment in the proposal, Castro said.

According to SEA’s June report, it takes 76 working days to review a project submitted with an environmental impact assessment (EIA), while a review involving environmental impact studies (EIS) takes 163 days. 

Long evaluation times have been criticized for hindering infrastructure and water investments.

However, environmental protections were among the key demands in the 2019 protests that led to the current constitutional debate

Recent polls suggest the proposal will be rejected, but President Gabriel Boric also said he would promote a new convention and drafting process.

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