The local municipal which is in charge of issuing building permits now sometimes requires a ruling by SETENA the costa rican environmental agency before they will issue a building permits for midsize to large projects.
According to the Environmental Law all human activities that alter or destroy elements of the environment or generate toxic or dangerous materials are required to submit an environmental impact evaluation to SETENA called Setena permit D1 or D2. This law also empowers Setena to monitor compliance with environmental regulations, and gives the agency the authority to stop any project if necessary. Depending on the potential impact, the activity is categorized as A, B1, B2, or C with C being the lowest potential environmental impact. Any activity in the C or B2 category and located in an area where there is a Land Use Plan approved by SETENA is defined as a low potential environmental impact activity, and is therefore processed through the simpler D2 form.
For projects with lower environmental impact in classes B2 and C. Every development or construction protect that exceeds 500m2 but does not exceed 1000 m2 in total construction or that does not move more than 200 m3 in soil and is not located in an environmentally sensitive area has to apply for the Environmental Viability Permit through the D-2 form. The ruling on this Elevation should not exceed more than 10 working days according to the law. Price for a D2 depend on your consultant but are about $500 (2013)
For projects with middle to higher environmental impact in categories A and B1. Every development Project that exceeds 1000 m2 of construction or soil movement and engineering works that exceed 200 m3 must proceed with the D-1 form to opt for environmental viability by SETENA. The D-1 application process is a more complicated and delicate matter and needs a by SETENA licensed engineer. It also includes a guarantee in the amount of 1% of the CIFA value which has to be deposited in a bank account and which gets payed back at the end of the construction if all laws where followed. The process takes usually about 6-8 months to complete. Price for a D2 can vary a lot depending on your consultant but with ours they are about $2000. (2013)
After SETENA evaluates one of the two forms above it will issue a ruling and inform what kind of impact study they will require. In case your construction project is classified as a low impact B2 or C than the procedure ends with the D2 form and the applicant has to submit a sworn declaration to SETENA to follow the rules and regulations. If the project is evaluated as a B1 with moderate impact than the applicant has to submit a Environmental Management Plan or “Plan de Gestion Ambiental” which has to set out the measures to protect the environment from damages which might occur during its construction process. If SETENA rules that your project falls into the highest impact category A than a full Environmental Impact Study has to be supplied by a certified Environmental Consultant that has been approved by SETENA.