Special Use Zone (SUZ) Establishment Now Regulated in Detail


Legal Update No. 653

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP continues its series of alerts exploring the August 2018 legislative developments. Today, we will cover the key points of Federal Law No. 342-FZ dated 3 August 2018 (“Federal Law No. 342” or the “Law”), regulating SUZ establishment in detail.

Please note, first of all, that the Russian legislation has so far offered no common approach to SUZ establishment. There has been no clarity over the SUZ set up process or the terms and procedure for damages associated with SUZ establishment or the date the relevant zone should be deemed established (government authority resolution or a record made on the State Property Cadastre or the Property Register or the very fact of a facility’s existence).

The reform can be said to have been kicked off by Federal Law No. 252-FZ dated 13 July 2015 under which, from 1 January 2018, commissioning permits for power grid, gas supply, transport infrastructure, pipeline transport or communications facilities requiring a buffer zone (BZ) may be issued subject to the applicant developing a location specification and listing reference point coordinates for the BZ boundaries. The commissioning permit then also serves as a resolution on having a BZ established for the facility in question.

Federal Law No.342-FZ changes these rules by shifting the SUZ establishment time for facilities under construction from the commissioning permit issue date to that on which the construction permit is obtained. It also lists all SUZs exhaustively and requires the Russian government to approve regulations for each type of SUZ.

The general rule is that an SUZ is deemed established once the information about it is recorded on the Property Register. Moreover, the Law regulates quite meticulously how SUZ establishment affects land plots within these zones. For instance, it specifies that capital facilities may still be built or reconstructed if a construction permit is issued before the SUZ is established and if the existing capital facilities are used for their intended purpose. Even so, they must be either made compliant with the restrictions of the relevant zone or demolished within two years of commissioning of the capital facility requiring an SUZ. The Law also provides a rather complex mechanism for regulating damages associated with SUZ establishment and covers in detail the relations arising from SUZs set up before it was enacted. Specifically, from 1 January 2020, tentative or estimated (provisional) sanitary protection zones will cease to exist and no restrictions on using land plots will then apply therein.

In general, even though thorough regulation of such an important land law concept can only be welcomed, it should be noted that fully-fledged compliance with the Law will require vast cadastral/ land surveying efforts before 1 January 2022 as the date specifically associated with finishing all works for completing the Property Register with SUZ-related information. So both private individuals and all levels of government might face quite high costs.

In a week, we will cover the key regulatory changes in relation to unauthorised structures.

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