Officials from the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning have denied reports that shopping malls will not be subject to the environmental impact assessment that aims to prevent construction projects from polluting the environment. The ministry put an end to speculation that shopping malls would be exempted from environmental impact assessment and therefore would be allowed to continue construction no matter how much they pollute environment. Officials from the ministry confirmed that the malls, which have dramatically increased in number over the past decade, will not be exempted.
Turkish media outlets had claimed earlier that the malls would have "a license to plunder" the environment with a new regulation by the ministry. They also claimed golf courses, residential complexes, railways and some industrial facilities would be spared from the environmental impact assessment. The regulation aims to bring the environmental impact assessment in Turkey in line with European Union standards.
Officials from the ministry said shopping mall builders will be required to present their project files before the construction to local branches of the ministry looking into whether a project damages the environment in terms of waste dumping, carbon emissions et cetera. Officials said other facilities claimed to be exempted from the new regulation will also be required to have an impact assessment report.
Environment Minister İdris Güllüce said earlier that the new regulation was implemented simply to streamline the bureaucratic process for the reports and bring further compliance with the EU directive on environmental impact assessment.
Although Turkey is not a member of the EU, it is pursuing accession talks with the body. The government, credited with landmark reforms over the past decade, is seeking to fulfill membership criteria with improvements in regulations on various sectors in line with EU standards. The EU directive on environmental impact assessments obliges member states to simplify their different environmental assessment procedures and make reports more understandable for the public.