A number of Danish municipalities and utility companies are cooperating at a local level to protect their towns from the effects of climate change. Efforts to protect towns against flooding include limiting the amount of surface water allowed into sewage systems through planning or regulatory measures, diverting surface water to places where it will cause less damage and using urban infrastructure as emergency channels for surface water.
Tighter rules on sulphur emissions from ships came into effect on January 1 2015, requiring that all ships operating in northern EU waters must comply with strict new emission limits. Estimates of their impact vary and different issues are at stake, but the initial Danish results indicate a significant reduction in sulphur rates in Danish air.
The Energy Authority recently stated that Total and Nordsøfonden's shale gas exploration in Northern Jutland has been completed and no further work will be performed in the exploration well. It is difficult to say whether this is the end of shale gas exploration in Denmark. However, increased protest against shale gas exploration and production will undoubtedly affect future permit requirements.
The government recently secured parliamentary support for an agreement with Germany on deposits on drink cans and bottles bought in German border shops. Danish customers that buy drinks in German border shops will pay either a Danish or a German deposit on cans and bottles and can get the deposit back in Denmark as well as in Germany. The aim of the agreement is to increase recycling.
The minister for the environment recently introduced a bill amending the Environmental Protection Act and the Spatial Planning Act. The bill follows a political agreement on a growth plan from June 2014 and should be seen as an important part of government efforts to reduce processing times for environmental permits and ease the administrative burden for companies and authorities.
The Environmental Board of Appeal is the central appeal board for all matters relating to nature, planning and the environment. It has recently introduced a new complaints portal, which is mandatory for first-instance authorities and aims to support user-friendly communication between parties. It is unclear whether the portal will enhance the efficiency of dealing with the numerous complaints filed each year.
Depending on their location, wind turbines can cause noise, visual interference and light reflections. In order to promote local support for wind energy projects, the Parliament passed the Promoting Renewable Energy Act, which establishes a compensation scheme for neighbours of wind turbines. The starting point is that the issue of compensation must be settled before the wind turbines are built.
The government has introduced a bill into Parliament amending the Construction Act on the City Circle Metro Line. The bill is the result of politicians' determination to ensure that major construction projects are carried forward in accordance with the Construction Act. While the bill will make construction of the line easier and cheaper, it will also allow noise levels to exceed all previously allowed levels.
Over recent decades, Denmark has incinerated almost 80% of its household waste. Even though this has made an important contribution to green energy production, materials and resources have been lost that could otherwise have been recycled. The government has therefore decided to move towards perceiving waste as a resource that can be reused and recycled, rather than merely something to throw away.
The City Circle Line is the latest expansion to the Copenhagen Metro network. The Metro Company was recently granted an extension to the working hours for construction work. However, the increased working hours and the accompanying elevation in noise levels have led a number of residents who live within the vicinity of the construction sites to file complaints with the Nature and Environmental Board of Appeal.
The environmental impact assessment report for the fixed link across the Fehmarnbelt between Denmark and Germany was recently issued and is now ready to be considered by the Danish authorities and the public. The report has been prepared on behalf of the Ministry of Transport to evaluate the project's impact on the environment, people and society.
The Agriculture and Food Council filed an administrative complaint with the Nature and Environment Complaints Board in relation to both water plans and buffer strips adopted in Denmark. The board recently decided on the complaint and rescinded all 23 water plans, declaring them invalid due to procedural deficiencies in connection with the adoption of the plans.
According to recent Danish legislation - more specifically, the recently enacted water plans - emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus into watercourses and the sea must be reduced radically and the upkeep of specific watercourses must be reduced or discontinued. Some Danish farmers fear that such restrictions will further compound the financial crises to which they are already subject.
Residents often protest against the construction of onshore wind turbines close to their properties due to considerable noise problems, particularly relating to low frequency noise. The Environment Protection Agency recently revised the statutory order on noise from wind turbines to include mandatory limit values for low frequency noise. Denmark is the first country to introduce such mandatory limit values.
For the past two years so-called 'monster rain' has hit Copenhagen in summer. The rain has flooded large areas in the capital and neighbouring towns, causing substantial property damage and closing major radial routes. The authorities have announced a number of ways in which they intend to prevent damage caused by monster rain in future.
In a number of recent decisions on the erection of large demonstration wind turbines, the Appraisal Authority has awarded modest damages to adjoining properties. However, in general the awarded damages have been relatively far from the individual neighbours' experience of the effects. As a result, local authorities may hesitate before granting permission for the establishment of new wind turbine parks.
Minister for the Environment Karen Ellemann has announced that she wishes to introduce a Danish ban on the use of four dangerous phthalates. In order to implement such ban, a draft regulation was recently submitted for public hearing. Ellemann also says that she will also work for a European ban on these four phthalates.
Within the last couple of years flooding has become increasingly common, and it appears that this tendency is about to accelerate in the years ahead. This update sheds light on how damage caused by flooding is compensated under Danish legislation and on how to limit the extent of flooding in the future through relatively simple measures.
Parliament recently passed a bill that will merge the Environmental Appeal Board and the Nature Protection Board of Appeal into a new appeal board - the Nature Protection and Environmental Board of Appeal. The merger is expected to take effect from January 1 2011. It remains to be seen whether the new appeal board will achieve the main goal of reducing the time spent deciding appeal cases.
The Energy Board of Appeal recently upheld the Energy Authority's permit for Nord Stream AG to construct the Danish section of the Nord Stream pipeline. This was the first decision regarding the Danish Continental Shelf Act to be heard by the board and the decision deals exclusively with environmental issues.