Under two separate pieces of legislation operators must have two authorizations, which are issued by the competent authority: a building permit and an authorization to operate.
Both applications must be submitted at the same time and their progress coordinated since the documents required may be the same – in particular the technical descriptions.
Building permits are issued by the administrative authority responsible for the area in which the structure will be located. It is issued to the entity making the request, which in principle owns the land, and is also the entity that will operate the facility. The dossier may be complex in the case of contractual structures where the entity owner is not the one that will operate it or when there is a concession granting the right to use the land for a limited period of time for the purposes of operating the construction built there or indeed its natural resources.
For example, concession contracts exist between states and oil companies, "OML blocks" (Oil Mining Lease) either on land or at sea, covering the exploration and potential exploitation of natural hydrocarbon resources.
A license to operate, which in France is governed by the Environment Code is issued by the administrative authority responsible for the activity identified as "actually or potentially" polluting, and is subject to its control. The application is sent to the Prefect for the area and depending on the classification, or nomenclature, of the activities involved is oriented to the appropriate administrative authority – in France, under the environmentally classified installation (ICPE) nomenclature, industrial activities fall within the remit of the DRIRE (attached to the DREAL), nuclear activities within the remit of the ASN if civilian and the DSND if military, etc. The activity is policed by the environment inspectors attached to these authorities. This includes monitoring licencing procedures, regular monitoring of installations, ensuring compliance with the technical requirements, responding to incidents, and monitoring the procedures for shutting down the activity and for restoring the site.
Building permits may be subject to impact assessments or to a public inquiry which will take any potential nuisance into consideration. It may be refused or made subject to particular requirements that may directly affect activities, and include such things as: the exposure of the population to severe noise nuisance, impacts on public safety and health, risks presented by access routes, damage to the character or interest of neighbouring places, sites, landscapes, the protection of views from monuments, and the protection of the fauna and flora.
SOFREN consequently offers its services in preparing the two applications (building permit and authorization to operate), in particular in relation to the technical descriptions of the structure and its activity, which are the deliverables produced as part of a basic study (plans, technical notes, data sheets, etc.), and in relation to producing the environmental impact study, or regularly updating them as requested by the authorities.
These activities therefore call on all our engineering skills, with project management, risk analysis, regulatory compliance predominating.