Mikael Wärnsby is Swedish lawyer and a partner of Advokatfirman Lindahl in Malmö. His primary practise areas are environmental law and energy law, focusing on the electricity, nuclear power and infrastructure sectors.
A recent draft bill suggests amendments to the Minerals Act in relation to the exploration of minerals. The government proposes that more specific information be given in work plans. The proposal includes expanded notification obligations for mineral prospectors. From the viewpoint of prospectors, extended work plan requirements will result in increased administration and higher costs in connection with exploration work.
This article summarises key amendments to Swedish environmental law which came into effect at the start of 2021. In particular, it outlines the new emissions trading regulatory framework, the state aid for certain environmentally friendly vehicles, the planned termination of the electricity certificate system, amendments regarding invasive alien species and municipalities' new information responsibility.
A Swedish refinery operator has applied for a permit to expand the capacity of its refinery in Western Sweden. The refinery is the largest in the Nordics and its expansion will give rise to increased greenhouse gas emissions, at least locally. The permit assessment has given rise to a question with potentially far-reaching consequences – particularly with regard to the Climate Act – which goes to the core of Sweden's centre-left government.
A number of revisions to the Environmental Code recently entered into force. The new rules apply to operators of hydroelectric power plants and plants that originally intended to produce hydroelectric power. The legislative changes aim to provide hydroelectric power plants with modern environmental conditions and ensure efficient national access to hydroelectric power.
The Land and Environment Court of Appeal recently determined a case regarding exemption from national provisions to protect the fungus species Sarcosoma globosum. While the ruling provides some nuance and clarification, the case has since been subject to interesting and varying interpretations by land owners, authorities and law practitioners.
The Drinking Water Inquiry recently submitted its final report to the government. The aim of the report was to identify challenges to a secure drinking water supply from raw water sources to delivery, and to suggest relevant actions. The inquiry contains good proposals to improve planning and management of drinking water from source to tap. However, its future success relies heavily on the work of authorities within their appointed areas of responsibility.
Sweden has obligations and climate goals in line with its duties as an EU member state. National policies on climate issues relate to these and other objectives set out by Parliament. A major question for the Swedish energy system remains over the future of its extensive nuclear power programme and how a gradual phase-out of nuclear power would affect the ambitious national goals on carbon dioxide emissions.
The Land and Environment Court of Appeal recently tried two cases concerning the interpretation of the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. Both cases concerned the construction of wind turbines in areas where birds protected under the directive live and breed. The central question was whether the construction of the wind turbines should be considered to be the deliberate killing of these birds, and therefore prohibited.
The Chemicals Agency has published new guidelines for suppliers of articles concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals duties to inform about candidate list substances. The new guidelines underline the importance for Swedish suppliers to comply with the Swedish interpretation of how to calculate the level of substances in an article.
One of the largest science infrastructure projects in Europe, the European Spallation Source (ESS), has been given the formal go-ahead to start construction on the outskirts of Lund, Sweden. The groundbreaking took place after permission from the Swedish Land and Environmental Court and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. The environmental licensing of the ESS has given rise to a wide array of complex assessments.
A recent Environmental Court of Appeal ruling has clarified a property owner's liability for contaminated land. Such liability is subsidiary to the polluter's liability and comes into play when it is impossible to find the liable operator, or when the operator is unable to pay for or carry out the necessary remedial measures. The court has now established the scope of the subsidiary liability in relation to the specific time limit rule.
Target values for noise emissions from traffic and industrial activities follow authority guidelines and are not set by statutory law. Existing rules on noise pollution are believed to impede the building of new dwellings in Sweden, especially in urban areas where the demand is greater. In order to increase building, the government has decided to investigate the possibility of improving coordination of the existing regulations.
In a recent decision the Environmental Court of Appeal discussed the concept of operator liability and stated that in each individual case the person or entity which is the operator of the polluting activities must be considered. The decision established that, under certain circumstances, a parent company could be held liable for activities by its subsidiary which have caused contamination.
The government recently submitted a proposal regarding amendments to the Planning and Building Act to a judicial preview. The proposed changes aim to shorten processing time for detailed development plans and area regulations by eliminating one of the instances in the court hierarchy. The proposal suggests that the county administrative board should be excluded from court hierarchy, as it has a difficult position in the judicial process.