Colin Hutchinson, CEO if Ascent Resources plc, commented: “I am encouraged by the developments in Ljubljana yesterday and hope that, once we enter into dialogue, any remaining issues can be addressed in a timely fashion. I am happy that the project is now being actively discussed in the Slovenian media and the opportunity this provides to address any misinformation in circulation in relation to the project.”
The Board of Ascent wishes to update shareholders that the first impact from Minister Leben’s review has been the resignation of the General Director of the Slovenian Environmental Agency (“ARSO”).
As previously reported the permitting process, managed by ARSO, has been ongoing since 2014. We have been deeply disappointed for some time at the way the permitting process has been carried out by ARSO, including the misapplication of legislation which resulted in the Administrative Court ruling in 2016. This resulted in the partners, through no fault of their own and at considerable cost, having to effectively reapply for a permit which had already been subject to a lengthy public consultation and approved by ARSO and the (then) Environment Minister.
More recently we have been frustrated by the length of time it had taken ARSO to request and approve the amendments necessary to ensure that the application was compliant with all current legislation. This was despite being assured that the process would be carried out properly, something that all companies, regardless of whether they are Slovenian or from other EU Member states, should be entitled to rely on.
We welcome action by the new Environment Minister to ensure that the permitting system works to protect the environment while delivering a process that responsible companies can rely on to make investments beneficial to the economic growth and energy security of Slovenia.
We have requested a meeting with the Minister to understand how the permits necessary for the future development of the field can be processed without further unnecessary delay to a process which has already gone on much longer than should have been the case.
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