Finland transposes EU pollution control law

Environmental protection act brings integrated pollution prevention directive into force

Finland belatedly met the demands of the EU's Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) directive yesterday when the new environmental protection act came into force, five months after the deadline in the directive. The delay followed wrangling between the environment and justice ministries over the right to administer environmental permits.

The new law seeks to integrate and clarify legislation on environmental health, waste, noise, water, air and soil pollution controls, but does not make significant changes in the stringency of Finland's existing laws. What it will do, however, says Jukka Nurmio of the Finnish environment ministry, is "provide the framework for future improvements in environmental protection, and help the environmental authorities work more efficiently".

Finland's three water courts, which formerly dealt with many major emission permits and controls, will metamorphose into three new independent regional environmental permit authorities under the environment ministry. Regional environment centres and local authorities will continue to deal with more routine controls and permits.

The main benefit of the new legislation for businesses is a unified environmental permit system, which will enable them to obtain comprehensive permits from a single authority. There is greater transparency, and the right to appeal against permits or complain against infringements of environmental limits has been expanded so that NGOs and the public will be able to get involved more easily.

Follow Up:
Finnish environment ministry, tel: +358 9 19911.

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