The countries of Central and Eastern Europe share a history of rapid industrialisation during the Soviet era. Unfortunately, they also share the environmental consequences of this period. To some extent, these hazards have been addressed in the past two decades, but the current situation is still far from perfect. The laws that regulate soil and groundwater contamination differ in their complexity and severity across CEE.
In recent years, noncompliance with environmental regulations has become a significant issue for investors and developers. In due diligence processes it is no longer seen as a side issue – it can be the issue. Soil and groundwater contamination means reduced property value and additional costs or obligations for the holder. At the same time, contaminated properties situated in an attractive location are becoming more and more interesting for developers. Hence, the necessity to solve contamination issues in order to facilitate the future development of brownfields.
According to a report prepared by the Joint Research Centre (the European Commission’s science and knowledge service), there are an estimated 2.8 million sites in the EU where an artificial surface indicates that polluting activities occurred in the past. A further 170,000 sites are being investigated. This shows the scale of the problem. Western European countries, which have been addressing the issue for at least three decades, are dealing with this by focusing on remediating sites with known contamination. Countries with a shorter history of addressing soil and groundwater contamination, such as CEE countries, need to focus more on identifying contaminated sites.
CMS’s Environmental Practice Group is delighted to present the “CEE Soil and Groundwater Contamination Guide” covering the main aspects of the environmental laws that are applicable to soil and groundwater contamination in eight jurisdictions in Central and Eastern Europe. Our guide provides basic information about the current state of affairs, applicable laws, responsibility issues, the measures required under public law to address the issue, regulatory instruments, and any anticipated changes to contamination regulations.
We hope you will find this guide useful. If you have any questions on soil and groundwater contamination or environmental law in general regarding any CEE jurisdiction, please feel free to contact our local experts.
Head of the Environmental Law Practice, CEE and Poland