The Comptroller General of the Republic, at the request of its Department of the Environment, Public Works and Companies, issued a statement clarifying Opinion No. E129413 of 2021, in the sense of determining whether the declaration of a wetland as urban, in the case of those referred to in letter s) of article 10 of Law No. 19,300.
The authority refers that the aforementioned opinion ruled on the inadmissibility of framing a certain project developed in the wetland indicated there, in any of the typologies of entry to the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA), for the reasons it sets out.
Next, it points out that the aforementioned article 10 of Law No. 19,300 typifies those projects or activities likely to cause environmental impact in any of their phases that must be submitted to the SEIA, which was modified by Law No. 21,202, issued with the objective to protect urban wetlands, meaning “all extensions of marshes, swamps and peatlands, or surfaces covered with water, whether they are natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, stagnant or current, fresh, brackish or salty, including extensions of sea water, whose depth at low tide does not exceed six meters and which are totally or partially within the urban limit ”.
In this context, it states that the entry of projects or activities related to wetlands was incorporated into the SEIA, in the letters p), q) and s) of the precept, whose hypotheses consist, respectively, of the execution of works, programs or activities in the areas placed under official protection that it details, expressly including urban wetlands among these; by the massive application of chemical products in urban areas or rural areas close to population centers, wetlands, or water courses or bodies that may be affected; and, for the “execution of works or activities that may mean a physical alteration or the biotic components, their interactions or the ecosystem flows of wetlands that are totally or partially within the urban limit, and that imply their filling, drainage, drying. , extraction of flows or aggregates, the alteration of the terminal bar, the hydric and riparian azonal vegetation, the extraction of the vegetal cover of peatlands or the deterioration, impairment, transformation or invasion of the flora and fauna contained within the wetland , regardless of its surface ”.
In this way, it warns that the legislator only in letter p) expressly refers to urban wetlands as one of the areas placed under official protection, so it must necessarily be understood that they are those that have the declaration of urban, in accordance with Law No. 21,202 and its regulations.
Regarding the aforementioned letter s), it considers that “the standard does not expressly contemplate urban wetlands, but refers to ‘wetlands that are totally or partially within the urban limit’, from which it is inferred that it does not refer, necessarily, to wetlands that have official protection, but to all those who are affected by the execution of works or activities that imply a physical or chemical alteration in them, in the terms established “.
In light of the above, it concludes that literals p) and s) of Article 10 of Law No. 19,300 refer to various situations and, therefore, projects that affect wetlands in the terms established by the latter, must be submitted to the SEIA even when an urban wetland declaration has not been made in this regard or it is in process, if the corresponding budgets are met. “In this way (…) it must be understood that any wetland, its components and the interactions between them, as well as the ecosystem flows of those that are totally or partially within the urban limit, is the object of protection, regardless of the declaration of ‘wetland urban ‘in charge of the Ministry of the Environment ”.
Consequently, it partially reconsiders Opinion No. E129413 of 2021, in the terms set forth.