An across-the-board revision of environmental ordinances has been on the cards for some time. The government has now agreed on specific changes following final approval of the environmental code by the Swedish parliament. Both the environmental code and now the revised ordinances are due to come into force on 1 January 1999 (ENDS Daily 5 December 1997).
The underlying philosophy of the changes is to make Sweden's environmental regulations consistent with the main environmental policy principles set out in the environmental code. However, in some fields it will also mean the development of binding rules for the first time in Sweden.
One such ordinance will lay down ambient air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and lead. Hitherto, there have been guidelines, an environment ministry official told ENDS Daily, but they have not been legally binding. According to the ministry, several of the new air quality standards will be stricter than those in force at EU level.
New rules will also apply in the waste management field, including a prohibition of biodegradable waste landfilling from 2005. Other changes to Swedish waste law will include the banning of landfilling of flammable wastes from 2002 and new rules on management of end-of-life electronics equipment.
Another new ordinance will considerably simplify and speed up procedures under which companies can be fined for breaching environmental regulations. In place of the existing "cumbersome" system, the environment ministry says, any supervisory body will be able to impose "on-the-spot" fines for breaches of environmental rules.
For relatively minor cases, supervisory bodies will be able to set fines of up to SKr600,000 (Ecu68,700). Where more environmentally significant activities are involved requiring a national government permit, the ceiling will be SKr900,000.
A further new ordinance lays down rules for agencies with supervisory responsibilities in the environmental field, which includes local authorities as well as specialised bodies. An advisory council is to be set up in the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to support the supervisory agencies and ensure that rules are applied consistently and fairly.
Swedish environment ministry, tel: +46 8 405 1000.
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