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Denmark

Environmental rules

Updated 12/2012

Legal requirements

The most important pieces of Danish legislation on the environment are:

Environmental control

A number of companies that require environmental licences are obliged to prepare green accounts. These are a statement of the company's consumption of energy, water and raw materials, and its emissions of substances that are harmful to the environment.

Land development

The state draws up the general guidelines for land development, while th local councils are responsible for translating the general guidelines and vision into actual land development. At the same time, the five regions are responsible for a new kind of plan - the regional development plan - which will ensure more strategic development planning.

There is no overall national plan, but after every election, the Minister for the Environment is required to produce a national planning strategy for the local councils and regions to use.

In addition to this, national planning interests are usually taken care of by means of the Minister for the Environment's powers to provide guidance and lay down guidelines for municipal planning (national planning directives, etc.). Under the amended Planning Act, the Minister for the Environment is also obliged to raise objections against a municipal plan if it conflicts with national or regional interests.

Waste management

Waste management is regulated by Chapter 5 of the Environmental Protection Act and the Executive Order on Waste.

In addition, there are also a number of special executive orders that regulate particular types of waste, e.g. waste from electronics, batteries and packaging.          

In addition, individual local councils use waste regulations to lay down more detailed rules that apply for the handling of waste there. The regulations can be found on the council websites.

Today, the local councils are basically responsible for waste management. There are special schemes that apply to waste that is covered by producer's liability.

The local councils are obliged to set up waste management schemes. There is usually an allotment scheme, whereby the local council refers a company to one or more waste management facilities and conveyors that the company has to use. Companies must comply with the local council's allotment.

New rules on reusable industrial waste are currently being prepared. From 2010 onwards, companies that want to collect or process reusable industrial waste will have to be approved and entered in a waste register. The rules are still being drawn up.

In addition, companies that transport, facilitate, act as brokers for or deal in waste will also have to be entered in a waste register.

Chemicals

Many of the current rules in the chemicals sector are common to the whole of the EU. These include the REACH Regulation and, for protective equipment, the Directives concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market.

Chemicals are also regulated by the Chemicals Act, which is designed to safeguard the environment and health when chemical substances and products are manufactured, stored, used and disposed of. A number of executive orders have been issued under the Act, and they prohibit or restrict the possibilities for using various substances, for example heavy metals and greenhouse gases.

In Denmark, protective equipment is regulated by the Chemicals Act which is designed to ensure that protective means are approved prior to import, sale and use. A number of executive orders have been issued under the Act, and they regulate various conditions for the import, sale, use and storage of protective equipment.

Water

The objective of "good condition" means that watercourses, lakes and coastal sea areas must provide good living conditions for animals and plants. Any human impact may only result in small differences from what one would expect to find if conditions were untouched. Groundwater must be of good chemical quality and water extraction may not exceed the generation of groundwater in the long term.

The provisions of the Water Framework Directive have been transposed into Danish law by the Environmental Objectives Act, which describes the work and planning process to be implemented in order to achieve the objective.

Climate and air

In Denmark, the Environmental Protection Agency, in collaboration with the National Environmental Research Institute, monitors the pollution content of the air. Air pollution by companies is regulated by environmental licences and orders , and under a number of executive orders aimed at selected sectors or specific pollution parameters. The Air Guidelines include a full description of how air pollution from companies is regulated by emission limits and by checking them.

Noise protection

Companies that require environmental licences have conditions set out for them in the licence with regard to their noise pollution of the environment. If companies that do not require an environmental licence generate substantial noise nuisance, the local council may order them to reduce the noise level. The Noise Guidelines by the Environmental Protection Agency describe how the noise conditions are worked out and contain guideline noise limits.

Nuclear protection

The National Institute of Radiation Protection, which is part of the National Board of Health, handles official tasks in relation to radiation protection in the areas where ionising radiation is used, especially for medical use and in industry, research and the environment.

Inspections

As a general rule, environmental assessments must always be carried out before any decisions are taken that could have a significant impact on the environment.

This applies at all levels such as policies, programmes, plans and projects. E.g. Bills and Parliamentary decisions, national or regional plans and programmes relating to infrastructure, construction, energy, etc., municipal plans and specific facility projects such as road building or setting up and expanding companies, that may be assumed to have a significant impact on the environment.

Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum environmental legal requirements at their own initiative.

Administrative procedures

Declaratory procedures

Land development

The state sets out the general land development guidelines. Local councils translate the general guidelines and vision into actual land development. The five regions are responsible for a new kind of plan - the regional development plan - which will ensure more strategic development planning.

Waste management

A registration requirement applies to waste covered by producers' liability.

Waste conveyors must currently be registered with the local councils where they run waste operations.

As of 1 July 2010, waste conveyors, brokers and dealers must be entered in a national waste register. The rules are still being drawn up.

Companies that collect reusable business waste must be approved and entered in the national waste register no later than 1 January 2011. The rules are still being drawn up.

Companies that process reusable business waste must be entered in the national waste register no later than 1 September 2010. These rules are still being drawn up.

Chemicals

Companies that manufacture, import or change the brand name of hazardous chemicalproducts where the quantity exceeds 100 kg a year must notify the product register of this.

Water

Levies on piped water are reported on Virk.dk.

Permits and licences

Most small businesses do not need a special environmental licence. They are checked by the local council's environmental inspector, who will regulate the company using orders or recommendations where necessary.

Companies that pursue highly polluting activities must have a special environmental licence. In the environmental licence, the environmental authority sets out the conditions for the company to be set up and operated, so as to limit any significant pollution by the company. The licence conditions include requirements relating to air, waste water, refuse, accident prevention and noise emissions. Companies that require an environmental licence appear in Annexes 1 and 2 to the Executive Order on the approval of listed activities and in the Executive Order on the licensing and approval, etc. of livestock farming.

Companies that manufacture, store or use large quantities of poisonous, flammable or explosive substances are also covered by the Executive Order on hazard risks, under which special rules apply.

Chemicals

The sale of poisons to private parties is only permitted by a special licence and when an order certified by the police is used. There are also special rules for sales of poisons to business and for their storage.

The import, sale and use of protective equipment is only permitted if the product has been approved. There are also special rules for the storage of protective equipment and the use of certain types of protective equipment, e.g. equipment for exterminating rats.

Water

Local councils issue permits for the emission of waste water.

Climate and air

Levies on nitrogen oxides (NOX) emitted into the air during incineration and combustion are registered on Virk.dk.

Noise protection

Companies that require a licence and which appear in the list in Annex 1 to the Executive Order on approval must, when applying for an environmental licence, describe the sources of noise and vibration, and any planned measures to reduce them, and also estimate the total noise level generated by the company in the surrounding areas. The noise must be calculated as an "environmental measurement - external noise" according to the rules in the Executive Order on accreditation and the instructions in the calculation guidelines.

Companies that require a licence and which appear in the list in Annex 2 must also provide information about sources of noise and vibration, and any planned measures to alleviate them, but they only have to calculate the company's total noise if the company is indicated by an asterisk (*) in Annex 2.

Inspections

Local councils and the state carry out inspections of environmental conditions at companies. Local councils take care of environmental inspections at most companies, while the national environment centres carry out environmental inspections at companies that have very complicated environmental conditions.

Waste management

Local councils carry out inspections to ensure that the waste management rules in Chapter 6 of the Environmental Protection Act and the Executive Order on waste are complied with.

Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency carries out inspections to ensure that importers, manufacturers and dealers of chemical substances comply with the rules.

Any violations may be punishable by fines or imprisonment of up to two years - unless other legislation stipulates a more stringent penalty.

Illegal products may be ordered to be withdrawn from the market.

Water

Water is not inspected unless there is a suspicion that a company is discharging polluted water that is harmful to the environment.

Climate and air

The Environmental Protection Agency, in collaboration with the National Environmental Research Institute, monitors the pollution content of the air.

Noise protection

Local councils carry out inspections to ensure that companies with an environmental licence comply with the conditions in the licence, including noise conditions. However, the Ministry of the Environment is the supervisory authority for companies marked with an (s) in Annex 1 to the Executive Order on approval.

For other companies, it is possible for the local council to issue orders to limit the noise if it causes a significant nuisance.

Resources

The Environmental Protection Agency website describes a number of the rules that apply to the environment.

There is a guide on the environment for business drawn up in cooperation with Force Technology Ltd, the Institute for Water and the Environment and 'Danish Standard'. It is funded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Startvaekst's environmental pages include an overview of the rules and anything a business should be aware of regarding the environment. Businesses can also get an overview of current regulations on environmental evaluations of their products.

Help & advice

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