Environmental rules - Sweden
The Environmental Code (Miljöbalken) and the Nature Conservation Act (Naturvårdslagen) are the most important laws in the environmental field.
The Environmental Code also contains rules of consideration which mean that those who cause or risk causing damage to the environment are responsible for repairing or preventing the damage (the 'polluter pays' principle).
Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum environmental legal requirements at their own initiative.
An environmental impact assessment must be carried out before a company can begin operations considered to be hazardous to the environment.
Hazardous activities include:
- emissions of sewage, solid substances or gas from land, buildings or facilities into the soil, bodies of water or ground water;
- use of land, buildings or facilities in a way which may result in damage to human health or the environment through emissions other than those referred to in point one, or through pollution of the soil, air, bodies of water or ground water;
- use of land, buildings or facilities in a way which may cause a nuisance in the surrounding area due to noise, vibrations, light, ionising or non-ionising radiation or similar.
The EU REACH Regulation covers chemicals, and has been incorporated into the Swedish Environmental Code. Based on a system of pre-registration, it makes companies responsible for ensuring that any chemicals released from their operations are not hazardous to health or the environment.
Activities of this kind must be registered with the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
In order to be permitted to run hazardous activities, you must apply for a licence.
Applications for licences for hazardous activities are assessed by the local County Administrative Board, which has a clearly defined regional supervisory responsibility. It is also a service authority and an appeal body.
In the case of operations with a significant impact on their surroundings, such as nuclear power plants or pulp mills, the government is responsible for granting licences.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI) assesses, classifies and labels chemical substances and preparations considered as hazardous to health and the environment.
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency can provide information and advice on how environmental laws should be interpreted, and what constitutes an environmental impact assessment.
The Swedish parliament has drawn up 16 national quality objectives with a fixed agenda. These goals describe the quality and state of the environment which are sustainable in the long term.
Check also the legislation on this topic in: