Environmental liability

The right to a favourable environment is enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation. A foreign investor, therefore, cannot ignore environmental issues in relation their investment.
Environmental liability in Russia is based on several principles including the presumption of ecological danger of planned economic and other activities, the “polluter pay” principle and the requirement for a mandatory environmental impact assessment when making decisions on the carrying out of economic and other activities.
Environmental law in Russia is created at both the federal and regional level. The key authorities responsible for formulating and implementing environmental policy and law at the federal level are the Ministry of Ecological Resources and the Ecology of the Russian Federation
(“MPR”), the Federal Service for Supervision over Use of Natural Resources (“Rosprirodnadzor”), the Federal service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (“Rosgidromet”) and the Federal Environmental, Industrial, and Nuclear Supervision Service (“Rostekhnadzor”, or “RTN”).
In order to conduct certain types of business which can cause harmful pollution or environmental degradation, it is necessary to obtain a special permit or certifcates.

Environmental liability. Examples of such activities are as follows:

  • industrial developments (manufacturing industries, oil and
    gas exploitation, mining);
  • infrastructure projects (roads, settlement and housing
    projects, airports, electric power plants);
  • urban constructions (malls, university campuses); and
  • agricultural and forest activities. Environmental offences can result in civil, disciplinary, administrative and criminal liability.
    Article 16 of the Environmental Protection Law sets forth the following types of negative effect on the environment:
  • emitting a pollutant and other substance into the atmospheric air;
  • dumping a pollutant, other substance and microorganism into bodies of water, underground bodies of water and water collection areas;
  • pollution of sub-soil;
  • industrial and consumption waste disposal;
  • pollution of the environment with noise, heat, electromagnetic, ionizing and other physical factors; and
  • other types of negative effect on the environment.

The legal entities and natural persons which have inflicted damage to the environment by polluting, depleting, damaging, destroying it, by irrational use of natural resources, by degrading and destroying natural ecological systems, natural complexes and natural landscapes or which have committed another violation of the environmental protection legislation must pay compensation.
Activities of legal entities and natural persons which breach environmental protection legislation can be restricted or even terminated by a court or an arbitration court.
Russian environmental legislation is complex and in many cases it differs from commonly accepted international standards. As a result, additional environmental due diligence may be required. A highly-qualifed consultant will be able to consider the relevant documentation, determine which permits and certifcates are required as well as communicate with the relevant governmental authorities in order to predict any potential risks connected with failure to comply with environmental law and environmental liability.
Usually any facility in Russia requires a permit to discharge potentially harmful fumes as well as an approval setting limits on the discharge of solid waste and effluent. Sometimes agreements for the extraction of water are required. Conducting such an activity without permission may result in the suspension of the current industrial activity of a company or a fne of up to 250,000 RUB (approximately 4,000 USD). This is environmental liability in Russia.