Italian environmental policy: here comes the new single permit called “Aua”

It has certainly been loudly announced, advertised, even possibly “mythicized” and, then, long-awaited. Eventually it came: the new Regulation establishing the Aua (which stands for “autorizzazione unica ambientale”), that is the environmental single permit, has come into force on 13 June 2013. It has indeed to be said: the name says it all...


Sure enough, this single permit will stand in for all main “sectorial” environmental permits, thus significantly removing unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and, according to the legislator’s best intentions, allowing companies to save costs and time.


The Regulation has been adopted by Presidential Decree no. 59, dated 13 march 2013, published on the Official Journal of 29 May 2013 (Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 124, Supplemento ordinario no. 42) implementing article 23 of the Law-Decree no. 5/2012 (so called “decreto semplificazioni”, converted into Law no. 35/2012).


The new permit (as mentioned, called “Aua”) is doomed to cover for: the waste-water discharge authorisation, the air emissions permits, notifications and leaves concerning noise pollution, the notifications prescribed within simplified waste treatment authorisation procedures, preventive notifications concerning the agronomic use of livestock manure and of oil mills’ vegetable water and the authorisation to the use of sewage sludge in agriculture.


In order to obtain the Aua, a specific request has to be submitted to the Council (notably to the Conuncil’s desk called “Sportello unico per le attività produttive - Suap”); the permit will then be granted by the Province (unless regional law allocates this competence to a different authority) and last for 15 years.


Though which categories of companies is the Aua applicable to? In this regard, the letter of the law is pretty obscure. It is certainly easier to state to whom it does not apply.


First hypothesis: the Aua does not apply to industrial installations which are subject to integrated pollution prevention and control (Ippc) legislation (called “autorizzazione integrata ambientale – Aia”).


Second hypothesis: the Aua does not apply to installations (rectius projects) subject to environmental impact assessment (Eia) inasmuch as the latter substitutes the other environmental authorisations (although this is not always the case, as it also depends on regional regulations).


Third hypothesis: the Aua does not apply to installations subject to the “waste treatment single permit” (“autorizzazione unica per gli impianti di smaltimento e recupero dei rifiuti”) regulated under article 208 of Legislative Decree no. 152/2006 (that is the Italian “Environmental Code”). These installations are thus exclusively regulated under the provisions concerning the waste treatment single permit, which also substitutes the other relevant environmental permits.


Hence, whom does it apply to? If one excludes the three hypothesis above, one should conclude that the Aua applies to all other companies which, in order to run their business, need to obtain one of the sectorial environmental permits which are substituted by the Aua (see article 3, para. 1, of the Regulation).


In other words, the Aua, flaunted as the “environmental permit for Sme”, actually came to represent the only environmental authorisation which, from now onwards, will apply to all installations, except those subject to Ippc, the waste treatment single authorisation or to Eia under the terms described above.


It is worthwhile to mention, anyhow, that the Aua does not substitute building permits.


A more careful analysis of the new authorisation will need to be carried out later on, when the Regulation will be implemented. Significant criticalities still arise even from a superficial consideration of the Regulation, the wording of which appears to be imprecise and incomplete.


To sum it up, in order to find out whether the new Regulation truly represents an opportunity to lighten administrative burdens, companies shall await that the Regulation be implemented by local competent authorities, doomed to make the Aua concretely operate.


It has certainly been loudly announced, advertised, even possibly “mythicized” and, then, long-awaited. Eventually it came: the new Regulation establishing the Aua (which stands for “autorizzazione unica ambientale”), that is the environmental single permit, has come into force on 13 June 2013. It has indeed to be said: the name says it all...


Sure enough, this single permit will stand in for all main “sectorial” environmental permits, thus significantly removing unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and, according to the legislator’s best intentions, allowing companies to save costs and time.


The Regulation has been adopted by Presidential Decree no. 59, dated 13 march 2013, published on the Official Journal of 29 May 2013 (Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 124, Supplemento ordinario no. 42) implementing article 23 of the Law-Decree no. 5/2012 (so called “decreto semplificazioni”, converted into Law no. 35/2012).


The new permit (as mentioned, called “Aua”) is doomed to cover for: the waste-water discharge authorisation, the air emissions permits, notifications and leaves concerning noise pollution, the notifications prescribed within simplified waste treatment authorisation procedures, preventive notifications concerning the agronomic use of livestock manure and of oil mills’ vegetable water and the authorisation to the use of sewage sludge in agriculture.


In order to obtain the Aua, a specific request has to be submitted to the Council (notably to the Conuncil’s desk called “Sportello unico per le attività produttive - Suap”); the permit will then be granted by the Province (unless regional law allocates this competence to a different authority) and last for 15 years.


Though which categories of companies is the Aua applicable to? In this regard, the letter of the law is pretty obscure. It is certainly easier to state to whom it does not apply.


First hypothesis: the Aua does not apply to industrial installations which are subject to integrated pollution prevention and control (Ippc) legislation (called “autorizzazione integrata ambientale – Aia”).


Second hypothesis: the Aua does not apply to installations (rectius projects) subject to environmental impact assessment (Eia) inasmuch as the latter substitutes the other environmental authorisations (although this is not always the case, as it also depends on regional regulations).


Third hypothesis: the Aua does not apply to installations subject to the “waste treatment single permit” (“autorizzazione unica per gli impianti di smaltimento e recupero dei rifiuti”) regulated under article 208 of Legislative Decree no. 152/2006 (that is the Italian “Environmental Code”). These installations are thus exclusively regulated under the provisions concerning the waste treatment single permit, which also substitutes the other relevant environmental permits.


Hence, whom does it apply to? If one excludes the three hypothesis above, one should conclude that the Aua applies to all other companies which, in order to run their business, need to obtain one of the sectorial environmental permits which are substituted by the Aua (see article 3, para. 1, of the Regulation).


In other words, the Aua, flaunted as the “environmental permit for Sme”, actually came to represent the only environmental authorisation which, from now onwards, will apply to all installations, except those subject to Ippc, the waste treatment single authorisation or to Eia under the terms described above.


It is worthwhile to mention, anyhow, that the Aua does not substitute building permits.


A more careful analysis of the new authorisation will need to be carried out later on, when the Regulation will be implemented. Significant criticalities still arise even from a superficial consideration of the Regulation, the wording of which appears to be imprecise and incomplete.


To sum it up, in order to find out whether the new Regulation truly represents an opportunity to lighten administrative burdens, companies shall await that the Regulation be implemented by local competent authorities, doomed to make the Aua concretely operate.