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A new law on environmental liabilities was recently published in the Official Gazette for Buenos Aires province. It details provisions which regulate the identification of environmental liabilities, as well as the obligation to restore contaminated sites or areas of risk to the population's health in order to mitigate negative impacts on the environment.
The Senate of the province of Buenos Aires recently passed the first law in the country establishing the principles, liabilities and obligations for the sustainable management of waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE). The new law aims to prevent and reduce the generation of WEEE, promote the reuse and recycling of such waste and modify the conduct of individuals that are part of the lifecycle of electric and electronic devices.
The Buenos Aires provincial executive power recently filed a bill with the legislative body for discussion and possible approval of a new Environmental Infractions Code. This innovative code will form the first compendium of administrative rules in Argentine law that addresses the protection of natural resources and the calculation of environmental administrative infractions and penalties corresponding to each breach.
The National Congress has passed the new Law on Minimum Standards for Protection of Glaciers and Periglacier Environment. In addition to defining 'glaciers', the new law created the National Glacier Inventory, where all glaciers and periglacier geoforms that act as water reserves within the national territory will be listed, with all the necessary information for their adequate protection, control and monitoring.
The Environmental Protection Agency of the province of Buenos Aires recently issued Resolution 389/2010 governing electronic waste management. The new resolution aims to prevent the indiscriminate generation of electronic waste and promote the reuse and recycling of such waste, with manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of electronic equipment being given a key role.
Parliament has taken the first steps towards making companies responsible for the full lifecycle of their products by passing the Product Stewardship Act 2011 as part of its National Waste Policy initiative. The act is essentially designed to reduce wastage, improve recycling rates, eliminate hazardous substances and reduce the overall environmental impact of products as they reach the end of their useful life.
In 2004 the European Commission adopted the EU Environmental Liability Directive, which promoted the establishment within the European Union of a uniform legal liability system for environmental damage. As a result, environmental liability issues should attract greater significance, and thus a broader environmental due diligence process with respect to acquisition targets.
When industrial property is sold and transferred, the parties usually agree on what environmental liabilities are assumed by which party. However, under mandatory public laws the seller remains liable for certain environmental obligations and the buyer becomes liable for other environmental obligations, irrespective of contractual provisions to the contrary.
A new decree has inserted a new title, "Environmental policy agreements", into the Decree on General Provisions Relating to Environmental Policy. The old legislative framework allowed for third-party participation only at a late stage of the procedure. Therefore, the main aim of the new decree is to enhance third-party participation before the start of the negotiations relating to an environmental policy agreement.
Last year an order of the Brussels metropolitan government was published in the Belgian State Gazette that set forth the procedure to be followed regarding the certification of soil pollution experts and the registration of soil decontamination contractors. After January 31 2013 only experts and contractors who are recognised under this order can perform these tasks.
Violations of Flemish environmental legislation are classified as either environmental infringements or environmental crimes, and are usually subject to a lengthy procedure to impose administrative fines. To solve the problems inherent in this procedure, the Flemish government has introduced new provisions that give suspected offenders the option to pay a pre-emptive sum in lieu of a fine.
Last year the Flemish government issued a decree on sustainable management of material cycles and waste materials, which recently became effective. The decree is an attempt to create a regulatory framework covering all consecutive operations throughout a lifecycle or substance flow, ranging from mining and extraction to the moment that such operations produce waste material that is unavailable for reuse.
The Constitution legitimises the protection of environmental assets. Such protection is considered a fundamental right, essential to a healthy lifestyle. However, the Constitution also considers the right to economic development equally fundamental. Therefore, in spite of the known environmental impact of mining activity, the Constitution expressly allows it, as it is considered an activity of national economic interest.
Brazil has been facing criticism from international institutions and non-profit organisations regarding the environmental and social impacts of the implementation of hydropower projects in the Amazon. Brazil has a large renewable energy sector, but 70% of the non-explored hydropower potential is located in environmentally sensitive areas, mainly in the Amazon and the Brazilian savannah.
Steel manufacturers carry a heavy social and environmental burden with regards to the charcoal that is used in the steel production chain. A significant proportion of the charcoal consumed as fuel by steel mills is produced under dubious practices. Steel mills have taken significant steps towards the adoption of sustainable practices, especially focusing on higher standards for the selection of charcoal manufacturers.
Rio de Janeiro has achieved a new milestone in its mission to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state. A new regulation has been passed by the state environmental agency, in alignment with its climate change policy set forth in 2010. The state has imposed new obligations on businesses responsible for high GHG emissions, which will help to achieve its aim of promoting the transition to a low-carbon economy.
In recent years the discovery of new contaminated sites has become routine for Brazil's environmental agencies. The authorities have therefore established specific regulations that aim to address the clean-up and public disclosure of such sites, including an obligation to provide notice of contamination to the Land Registry Office. This is in line with both national and international environmental law.
A recently proposed complementary law represents hope for the end of jurisdiction disputes among federal, state and local environmental agencies in Brazil, increasing the efficiency of environmental permitting procedures and allowing the country to develop its infrastructure in a swift and environmentally conscious manner. Proposition of the law has therefore been classified as a matter of urgency.
The minister of sustainable development, environment and parks recently introduced Bill 42, which, if passed into law, will create government regulatory powers that will deepen its control over greenhouse gas emissions through market mechanisms. Essentially, the bill will allow for the creation of a provincial cap-and-trade system, the details of which will be established by government regulation following the enactment of the law.
Ontario's deputy premier and minister of energy and infrastructure recently introduced Bill 150 for its first reading in the legislature. If passed, the bill would create a new standalone Green Energy Act 2009 and significantly amend or repeal 17 other statutes in order to set Ontario on course to a greener economy and a conservation culture.
The Quebec government plans to adopt a new regulation in order to collect information on the impact of water withdrawals and allow for better management of conflicting uses of water resources. Industries, businesses, municipalities and institutions will be required to communicate various data to the government on the water that they withdraw from the natural environment.
A new list of Canadian governmental incentives targeted specifically at businesses is now making it easier to be green. This update provides an overview of the environmental incentive programmes available to businesses located in Ontario, together with a description of the respective eligibility requirements.
Under British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act, the Ministry of Environment has the authority to issue contaminated sites approvals, notably certificates of compliance and approvals in principle of remediation plans. The newly created and independent Society of Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals of British Columbia now processes the vast majority of applications.
Canadian companies face an uncomfortable new reality with respect to cross-border pollution: even if they conduct no activities in the United States, the long arm of the US Environmental Protection Agency is applicable if their Canadian operations result in pollution south of the border.
Regarding the environmental liabilities that might be involved in the transfer of assets, three areas must be addressed: civil tort action, environmental restoration action and administrative responsibility.
The fundamental law protecting the Chilean environment has recently been bolstered by improvements to the regulatory, administrative, judicial systems.
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.
The European Food Safety Authority recently issued its preliminary assessment on a controversial French study which, for the first time in history, provides evidence confirming fears of the long-term toxicity of certain types of genetically modified organism (GMOs). Much criticism has been voiced against the existing regulation of GMOs by both member states and the general public.
The European Economic and Social Committee has delivered an opinion on the proposed revision of the EU Batteries Directive. The amendment relates to the exemption contained in the directive concerning the use of cadmium in batteries intended for use in cordless power tools. While broadly welcoming the proposed revision, the committee has voiced doubts about certain elements of the proposal.
A study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from batteries, prepared by an independent consultancy for the European Commission, has recommended the phasing-out of mercury use in button cell batteries within two years of adoption of the relevant legislation. The overall objective of a ban would be to reduce the environmental impacts of mercury.
The Council of the European Union has formally approved the recast of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. The directive aims to increase the collection, reuse and recycling of used electronic and electrical equipment and to reduce electronic and electrical waste. Among other things, the directive promotes the 'producer responsibility' principle.
The Official Journal recently published EU Regulation 392/2012 on the energy labelling of household tumble dryers. The regulation is part of the implementing measures called for by the EU Energy Labelling Directive. The directive is aimed at providing consumers with the relevant information to enable them to choose appliances on the basis of their energy and resource efficiency.
Eight new substances have been added to the authorisation list included in Annex XIV of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation. Once a substance has been included on the list, its placing on the market and use within the European Union is prohibited after a 'sunset date'. A company wishing to use the substance after that date must apply for specific authorisation.
The Emissions Trading Act has been amended in order to clarify the consequences of the bankruptcy of emissions trading entities by regulating the continuous obligations of operators by which the bankruptcy estate is bound and setting out the rules on the surrender of emissions allowances in bankruptcy proceedings.
The Finnish government has published a draft bill to implement the EU Environmental Liability Directive. A new type of liability that will result from implementation of the directive is the requirement to take necessary preventive measures where there is an imminent threat of environmental damage, or to take necessary restorative measures where environmental damage has already occurred.
Parliament has passed two new national public procurement laws in order to implement two EU directives on procurement procedures. The new national procurement legislation explicitly enables the contracting authorities to take environmental criteria into consideration. It is hoped that the implementation of the directives will lead to increased use of environmental criteria in public procurement in Finland.
The Finnish government has issued new emission limit values for the discharge of waste water. The decree prohibits installations from releasing dangerous substances into a body of water or into the sewers of water supply and sewerage installations. The targeted substances are primarily used as solvents in the chemical and metallurgic industries.
A new interpretation of the concept of waste by the Supreme Administrative Court may lead to new opportunities for waste producers. Previously, the prevailing guidance on whether material should be considered as waste or a by-product came from two European Court of Justice cases featuring Finnish enterprises.
Finland has reviewed its national decree implementing the EU Large Combustion Plants Directive (1988/609/EEC) in order to include amendments made in 2001 regarding the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants.
Sale and leaseback transactions involving industrial sites can present effective financial solutions in times of crisis. However, careful due diligence is required to ensure that no issues arise under the environmental regulations concerning contaminated sites. Among other things, a key factor is identifying the operator of a site which is responsible for any remediation.
Public consultation as part of project development plans and programmes that may affect the environment has changed considerably in France since July 12 2010, when the Grenelle 2 Law redefined impact assessments and public inquiries. The process has become more effective and there is real public involvement in environmentally sensitive projects.
The Ministries of Ecology and of Industry have announced the launch of a new quality label for the photovoltaic industry: 'AQPV – modules'. This label is part of the government's strategy to develop national industry, and the solar roof programme is completely based on this quality approach. However, industry has criticised the conditions imposed by the new programme for being too restrictive.
On the basis of the Grenelle Acts 1 and 2, France is on course to meet some of its waste management targets for 2012 (eg, reducing the production of household waste and waste of a similar nature per person, and increased recycling of companies' non-hazardous waste). However, it seems unlikely that the 15% reduction target for incinerated and landfilled waste will be met, so further efforts are needed in this regard.
In 2007 the government launched a democratic debate on environmental issues, known as the Grenelle Environment Project. The initiative has now been adopted through the Grenelle 2 Act, the law on the national commitment to the environment. The six major environmental concerns of Grenelle are buildings and urban planning, transportation, energy and climate, biodiversity, governance and risk, health and waste issues.
Recent developments in the field of criminal environmental law highlight new improvements in the traceability of environmental crime and the increasingly prominent role played by criminal law in the protection of the environment. A special National Crime Office report lists all environment-related offences committed during 2008; meanwhile, the fight against environmental crime has recently been stepped up.
The German government was required to transpose the EU Carbon Capture and Storage Directive into national law . However, the fate of the resulting act on carbon capture and storage is still uncertain. The crucial subject of discussion is the so-called 'exit clause'. Nevertheless, the fact that talks are continuing seems to indicate a general willingness for compromise among the parties involved.
A recent European Court of Justice decision has substantially expanded environmental NGOs' standing in court . As a result, it is to be expected that environmental NGOs will gain a more prominent role in future permitting procedures in Germany.
A recent Federal Court of Justice decision has clarified that a property owner can start remediating soil contamination as soon as the competent authority has announced that it is planning to issue a remediation order, safe in the knowldge that it will subsequently be able to claim compensation. The court also affirmed that compensation claims become statute-barred after three years.
The Federal Parliament has passed a bill to promote the use of green energy. From 2009, a certain percentage of the energy used in new buildings for heating, hot water preparation and cooling must be drawn from renewable sources. The law will apply, with certain exceptions, to industrial, commercial and residential buildings.
A draft bill to bring national law into line with the EU Regulation Concerning the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) is awaiting approval in the upper house of Parliament. Among other things, the regulation will designate implementing authorities and set out their powers of enforcement.
Over six months after the implementation period provided by the EU Environmental Liability Directive, the Environmental Damages Act has finally entered into force. At present, it is difficult to predict what impact the act will have on liability, and consequently how large the environmental damage insurance market will be.
The pursuit of oil has begun in the Arctic area - particularly in Western Greenland. Greenland now faces significant environmental challenges arising from the extraction of oil in such a vulnerable and harsh environment. This update highlights a number of legal issues regarding the protection of the Arctic environment from the effects of oil exploration and extraction.
Hong Kong's nascent jurisprudence in the area of environmental law took a step forward in a recent Court of Final Appeal decision which emphasized the need for strict compliance with the statutory process in the environmental impact assessment of major projects.
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is reviewing and revising ISO 14001 – the accepted template for environmental compliance systems in the context of resolving enforcement actions. If adopted, the changes will result in closer scrutiny of ISO 14001-certified facilities and less flexible requirements where such environmental management systems are implemented in the context of resolving enforcement matters.
The 2009 Environmental Law expands the role of environmental regulation, specifically in the fields of oil and gas remediation, environmental impact assessments and penalties for non-compliance. Iraq has also acceded to a large number of international environmental agreements in the last few years and is committed to ensuring their full implementation over time.
A government taskforce recently published its strategy for implementing the EU Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The strategy has major implications for producers, importers and retailers of electrical and electronic equipment.
The Office of Environmental Enforcement was recently established as a dedicated unit within the Environmental Protection Agency. Its central aim is the more effective enforcement of environmental controls. Specific objectives include tackling non-compliance with environmental legislation and raising awareness of the importance of enforcement.
The European Convention on Human Rights could have a significant impact on environmental law and protection in Ireland. One area where it is expected to be relied on is the statutory immunities which certain public authorities - such as the Environmental Protection Agency - enjoy in the exercise of their statutory functions.
The European Commission has sent Ireland a final written warning for non-compliance with the Waste Framework Directive, in relation to arrangements for the treatment of urban waste water. If successful, the commission's action could result in a new layer of permitting in Ireland, to be applied to waste water treatment infrastructure generally and in sensitive areas.
Key elements of environmental regulation are undergoing significant change as a result of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003. The first series of commencement orders in relation to the act are now operative; they concern local authority waste management plans and development plans, and waste collection bylaws and charges.
The Protection of the Environment Act 2003 proposes wide-ranging amendments to some of Ireland's most significant pieces of environmental legislation. It shows increasing intolerance of environmental offences and non-compliance by giving regulatory authorities increased powers of inspection and direction, and introducing increased penalties, among other things.
The Israeli Parliament recently passed an amendment to the Traffic Order that will allow local authorities to take independent measures to tackle air pollution from traffic in their area. The amendment significantly expands the authority of municipalities and allows them to manage traffic in their jurisdiction in order to reduce pollution, as part of a multi-year plan for air pollution control.
Recently, new water treatment technologies that can increase the potential of water sources have been discussed in Israel. New technologies are not always included in routine methodologies due to the inconsistency between rapid technological development on the one hand and slow development of some regulatory systems on the other.
Traditionally in Israel, the issue of waste tyre recovery has not been regulated. However, the Tyre Disposal and Recycling Law 2007 has recently come into effect. The law aims to reduce the environmental nuisance caused by improper tyre disposal while promoting waste tyre recycling.
Israel tries to lead the way in alternative waste treatment, and on July 1 2007 the Maintenance of Cleanliness Law was amended to impose a landfill levy. The rate of the levy will be set according to the type of waste. The levy will be implemented gradually and incrementally over a period of five years.
The Prevention of Nuisance Law 1961 forbids the causing of unreasonable odours, noise or air pollution if this disturbs other parties in the surrounding area. However, no regulations have been passed under the law to prescribe quantitative values for the determination of odour nuisance. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has now issued draft procedures to remedy this omission.
Spurred on by an accident in 1997, when two Australian athletes died of severe lung inflammation caused by riverbed toxins, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has been considering measures to clean up Israeli riverbeds. However, due to the lack of national legislation on this issue, Israel is taking inspiration from Dutch and US law and practice on soil and sediment remediation.
Under Legislative Decree 231/2001, corporations and individuals who act on their behalf may be held liable for a specific list of offences committed – or merely attempted – in the interest or for the benefit of the entity. A large number of environmental crimes were recently added to this list, mainly related to unlawful waste management. Consequently, the correct implementation of an environmental management system is crucial.
In October 2012 six scientists were sentenced to six years' imprisonment by an Italian court for their alleged role in the death of many people in the L'Aquila earthquake of April 6 2009. The full reasoning behind the verdict has now been made public. From a legal point of view, the convictions appear to be wrong, and it is hoped that the decision will be overturned on appeal.
Italian environmental law contains separate regulations for plants that are subject to the EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive and those that are not. Until recently, non-IPPC plants required different environmental licences for their various potential environmental impacts. However, the government recently introduced a unified authorisation procedure, even for 'minor' installations.
A recent decision of the Council of State could lower the costs of the emergency measures to be implemented in areas with contaminated groundwater. Many remediation experts hope that this decision will help to reduce the consequences of the rigid approach taken by Italian public bodies when deciding which remediation and emergency measures are to be adopted in contaminated areas.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC scheme) is a new mandatory climate change and energy-saving scheme aimed at improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the United Kingdom. At present, a particular interest surrounds the impact of the CRC scheme on Jersey trusts where the trustees hold UK property directly.
Pursuant to the Environment Management and Coordination Act 1999, any person planning to embark on a project in Kenya is required to submit a project report to the National Environment Management Authority in a prescribed form. The second schedule of the act contains a list of projects that must undergo an environmental impact assessment.
A Kenyan court has issued an injunction against a Canadian owned mining company preventing it from prospecting and mining titanium in Kwale. The action, brought by concerned locals, succeeded because the company had not complied fully with the regulations regarding the submission of an environmental impact assessment report.
The draft bill for the Federal Act for Environmental Responsibility, currently under consideration by the House of Representatives, seeks to regulate liability for harm to the environment and mandate restoration and compensation for such harm. The draft act also includes alternative dispute settlement options and sets forth the general rules and requirements to file civil actions.
The Mexican Stock Exchange Market has launched a sustainability index. The index allows investors to identify companies in terms of their commitment to sustainable causes and compliance with environmental laws. It also provides an incentive for companies to engage in sustainable practices or else risk losing value and investment capital.
Two draft official standards - on waste for special treatment and hazardous waste - are expected to be approved in the coming months and will create new obligations in respect of waste management programmes. Generators of waste and other parties involved in waste handling would be well advised to start work on their management programmes.
Mexico is moving forward on climate change. The Senate has debated and approved the General Climate Change Bill which would create - among other things - a national climate change policy and an independent climate change authority. It sets out significant provisions on adaptation and mitigation, and on accessing federal and international funds for carbon capture and greenhouse gas reduction.
A constitutional amendment allowing class or representative actions on environmental matters represents a big step forward for Mexico's environmental law. The change will inevitably lead to increased exposure for individuals and entities in performing activities and securing approvals under federal environmental legislation.
Who is responsible for compliance with environmental regulations when a company is declared bankrupt? Who is liable in these circumstances to pay penalties imposed by the competent environmental authority? The Council of State – the Netherlands' highest environmental court – recently got a rare opportunity to consider this issue. The court reaffirmed its existing case law, which comprises just two previous decisions.
After years of alleged environmental mismanagement at Odfjell's Rotterdam tank storage terminal, an inspection by the DCMR Environmental Protection Agency led to the temporary closure of the entire facility. Due to the public outrage following several disasters at similar facilities and a report on Odfjell's safety standards, all environmental management agencies have become more stringent in enforcing regulations.
The possibilities under Dutch law for punitive revocation of environmental permits have increased since the introduction of the Environmental Permitting (General Provisions) Act in October 2010. All permits, exemptions, dispensations and similar covered by the act can now be revoked as a penalty. The grounds for revocation from different laws have been unified to form one provision with a much broader scope
The minister of economic affairs, agriculture and innovation recently announced the 'green deals' that have been concluded. Through green deals, the Dutch government helps citizens, companies, organisations and other authorities with sustainability initiatives that would otherwise be difficult to implement.
The Council of State has issued five further decisions regarding RWE Power AG's construction of the Netherlands' largest coal-fired (and biomass) power plant. Among other things, the decisions annul a permit based on the Nature Conservation Act 1998 that had been granted to RWE and dismiss a request from Greenpeace and the Society for Nature and Environment for enforcement measures against RWE.
A question mark hangs over completion of the construction of the Netherlands' largest coal-fired (and biomass) power plant following two recent rulings of the Council of State. Three administrative decisions are relevant: two separate permits based on the Nature Conservation Act 1998 and a routing decision based on the Routing Act.
Under its extended mandate, the Environmental Protection Authority now has broader responsibilities - for example, in the management of hazardous substances and in advising on environmental regulations. Its regulatory role is likely to expand further in relation to New Zealand's emissions trading scheme and its extra-territorial waters, as the government pushes for greater national direction for environmental regulation.
More than 20 of the recommendations in a recent report on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme relate directly to agriculture and forestry. Among other things, measures are recommended to give the agriculture sector time adjust to a carbon price on biological emissions. On forestry, the report calls for a "hard-headed national interest assessment" of New Zealand's unique position in the international framework.
"Doing New Zealand's Fair Share" is the title of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme Review Panel's final report. The scheme has suffered from uncertainty due to the political factors involved in climate change, but the report provides guidance on its future direction. Experts have sought to predict what the report's recommendations might mean for participants and other parties that acquire and dispose of units.
The government has hailed the first annual report on the New Zealand emissions trading scheme as indicating that the scheme is "working as intended". Despite some cynical responses to this positive spin, emissions trading seems likely to remain a key part of New Zealand's response to climate change, particularly with the potential for linkage with the future Australian emissions trading scheme.
The new board of inquiry regime for projects of national significance is still settling in, but it appears that the consenting of nationally significant projects can now proceed more quickly, without the so-called 'double-handling' aspect of the consent authorities and the Environment Court process. However, the number of projects being referred to boards of inquiry has the potential to put pressure on Environment Court judges.
The Resource Management Act, New Zealand's primary environmental legislation, and the Local Government Act both impose certain consultation requirements. The reconciliation of two consultation obligations, in the context of environmental regulation required by way of a district plan, was at the forefront of a High Court decision with significant implications for environmental law.
Decree 76/2006, which reforms the structure of the environmental evaluation system, has recently entered into force. The new regulation is part of a strategy developed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources to decentralize the environmental administration of the country. The aim is that environmental permits and assessments be obtained in a more efficient and effective way.
A recent ministerial resolution establishes the procedure and requirements for the grant of a special licence for the use of mangrove swamps, wetlands and related resources. The resolution aims to protect these valuable ecosystems and promote sustainable use of natural resources.
The Environmental Order for the Use, Treatment and Final Disposal of Non-harmful Solid Waste establishes the standards which apply to the collection, treatment and final disposition of non-harmful solid waste, with the aim of protecting the environment. The order obliges individuals and local authorities to take certain measures with regard to waste disposal.
Nicaragua has ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Agreement on Biological Diversity. The protocol provides an international regulatory framework for reconciling commercial and environmental needs within the global biotechnology industry. Its ratification removes the need for national legislation on biotechnology.
The Norwegian authorities have proposed a new regime for carbon compensation for all large-scale industrial consumers of electricity in Norwegian industry in order to reduce the risk of carbon leakage resulting from the cost of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme allowance being passed onto consumers. The proposals follow guidelines to the scheme which were published last December.
The Borgarting High Court recently handed down a judgment regarding liability for offshore field operators to pay nitrogen oxide tax under the Act on Excise Duties and its relating regulations. The court had to consider whether liability to pay tax for nitrogen oxide emissions from mobile drilling installations on the Norwegian continental shelf rested with the owner of the rig or with the field operator.
The Norwegian Parliament recently agreed on a new climate policy for the coming years. The agreement is referred to as the Climate Settlement and concerns certain additions to the White Paper on Climate Efforts. The parties to the agreement have undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a national level and step up technological development.
The Svalbard Treaty recognises the full and absolute sovereignty of Norway over the Svalbard archipelago. The increased interest in the natural resources around Svalbard and the northern regions poses a threat to the environment. Thus, the government has passed amendments to the relevant environmental legislation in order to counteract any potential negative effects that new activities may have on the Arctic environment.
The legal effects of contravening the legislative provisions on the export of waste for disposal or recovery to developing countries can be substantial. The Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency recently proposed an increase in the criminal penalties for illegal export of waste.
In light of substantial sea discharges of produced water and oil from the petroleum industry, new guidelines have been issued that require operators on the Norwegian continental shelf to implement procedures for environmental monitoring in order to obtain information on the actual and potential environmental impact of their activities.
Peru has updated its environmental framework through the enactment of a new General Environmental Law. The law replaces the Environmental and Natural Resources Code, and is designed to provide the country with an adequate general framework to serve as a catalyst for further reform and more in-depth regulation.
The Council of Ministers recently adopted the conceptual framework for a bill amending the Law on Maintaining Cleanliness and Order in Municipalities and amending certain other laws. This allows the Ministry of Environment to make a fundamental amendment to the waste management system which, as a result, may significantly change plans for construction of waste-to-energy plants in Poland.
The Act amending the Act on Access to Information on the Environment and on Environmental Impact Assessments recently came into force. The amendment introduces several changes which are important for investors. In compliance with the act, before the implementation of planned investments that might have a significant impact on the environment, a decision on environmental conditions must be obtained.
Under the Green Investment System, states that exceed their climate commitments can sell their surplus assigned amount units to other states in order to use the funds derived from such sales to finance projects that limit greenhouse gas emissions. Recently, the Polish government took steps towards selling its surplus assigned amount units.
A new decree-law has changed Portugal's legal framework for the enactment of the EU emissions trading scheme. Accompanying legislation created the Portuguese Carbon Fund, which will manage the country's applications for emission credits and monitor its compliance with its Kyoto Protocol obligations.
Law 58/2005 establishes a new institutional framework for water management policy in Portugal. The aim of the new law is to provide the means for the sustainable management and protection of water resources. Its measures are to be implemented by regional water management authorities administering territories based on Portugal's river basins.
A new decree-law regulates the introduction and cultivation of genetically modified organisms. The main purpose of the legislation is to make the biotechnological advances of the past decades compatible with the preservation of the environment, in particular Portugal's indigenous species, and of the country's natural agricultural resources.
The National Programme for Efficient Water Use, recently approved by the Council of Ministers in Resolution 113/2005, is intended to protect the environment, minimize the risk of water shortages and protect water as a vital industrial, economic and natural resource. It incorporates or implements both national and European legislation, including the EU Water Framework Directive.
Waste management has become one of the country's major concerns and is widely regarded as an urgent matter. It is hoped that the implementation of an integrated system of waste management will facilitate the swift adoption of adequate waste re-use and recycling procedures, with a view to reducing the quantity and toxicity of waste.
A recent decree-law provides for the creation of hazardous waste centres, and sets forth the licensing procedure for their installation and operation. It aims to ensure that the entities which are awarded permits have the capacity to install and operate the hazardous waste centres - a significant concern, given the environmentally sensitive nature of these centres.
One of the areas regulated by a new environmental protection law is the transfer of enterprises which have a 'significant potential impact' on the environment. Mergers, transfers of assets and transfers of majority shareholdings may be made conditional on a successful application for an environmental permit and, in some cases, the completion of an environmental audit of the activity.
Including: Environmental policy and enforcement; Environmental permits; Waste; Liability; Contaminated land; Powers of regulators; Reporting and disclosure obligations; General issues; Emissions trading and climate change; Environmental insurance liability; National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill.
In 2012 two judgments were delivered regarding the functioning of the Water Tribunal - the forum for hearing appeals under the National Water Act. These judgments were handed down subsequent to the disbandment of the tribunal in August 2012. The minister of water and environmental affairs' failure to make appointments necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the Water Tribunal have come under criticism.
The Constitutional Court recently resolved a longstanding dispute on whether consent or authorisation is required in terms of land use and environmental legislation for mining activities. The court cleared up the confusion regarding the land use planning competence of municipalities, but did not clarify the position on the regulation of environmental matters in the mining sphere.
All new buildings and extensions must comply with the buildings energy usage provisions laid out in the amended National Building Regulations. The amendments introduce requirements for energy usage in buildings by setting minimum standards for energy efficiency with which all new buildings and extensions must comply. The regulations are part of efforts to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The National Environmental Management Waste Act came into force in 2009, with the exception of the provisions that regulate contaminated land. The Department of Environmental Affairs is taking steps as a precursor to the enactment of these provisions. However, as they stand, the provisions fall short of what a potentially effective regime should include.
The National Environmental Management Act, read together with the Criminal Procedure Act, provides for individuals to institute private criminal prosecutions for the protection of the environment. This is a risk for companies which have reached an accommodation with the authorities regarding environmental laws, only to be faced with a private prosecution. While the act facilitates such proceedings, there are limitations.
The environmental effects of public and private sector infrastructure projects in South Africa are regulated by a patchwork of local laws, governing air, water and waste, among other things. This update briefly summarises the main legislation and the environmental authorisations needed to take a project forward.
The new Land Law, which was approved by the House of Deputies last year, has recently been enacted, with few departures from the original wording. Among other things, the law sets forth economic and environmental principles for the use of land, as well as the responsibilities of the relevant public entities.
The new draft Environmental Liability Law aims to bring Spanish law into line with the EU Environmental Liability Directive. The draft law will implement to the largest possible extent the 'polluter remedies' principle; the law aims mainly to restore natural resources damaged by economic or professional activities to their original state on an objective liability basis.
Royal Decree 1370/2006 has approved the National Plan for the Allocation of Emission Rights for Greenhouse Gases for the period from 2008 to 2012. This is the second plan produced within the framework of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the first that coincides with the commitment period established by the Kyoto Protocol.
The House of Deputies has approved the initial draft of a new Land Law. Among other things, the draft law aims to ensure sustainable urban development based on prior environmental impact assessments. It focuses heavily on measures intended to prevent air and soil contamination and protect the environment against the damaging impact of uncontrolled urbanization projects.
The government has enacted Royal Decree 679/2006, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of industrial oils and ensure their proper management. The royal decree also aims to reduce the generation of used oils, or at least facilitate the possibility of adding value to used oils through regeneration or other recycling processes.
The EU Environmental Liability Directive was recently adopted into domestic law. The amendments and new provisions to put the directive into effect are incorporated into Chapter 10 of the Swedish Environmental Code. A new ordinance on serious environmental damage has also entered into force.
The Environmental Code states that persons who pursue or have pursued an activity or have taken a measure that causes damage to the environment shall be responsible for remediation to the extent deemed reasonable. In a surprising decision the Superior Environmental Court has found that the code included a requirement to investigate existing contamination during an ongoing activity.
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has issued the Regulations on Environmental Reports as a result of the adoption of the EU European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register Regulation. In light of the differences between the EU regulation and the Swedish regulations, there is a risk that a conflict between the rules might arise.
The Environmental Code sets forth general rules of consideration with which any person or entity pursuing an activity under the code must comply. Among these is the requirement to possess the necessary knowledge to protect human health and the environment. The Supreme Court has recently considered whether the knowledge requirement should be among the conditions set forth in environmental permits.
Under the environmental legislation, environmentally hazardous activities are categorized as A, B or C activities. In order to stimulate investment in wind power generation, the government has amended the C category to include wind farms with a combined power output of up to 25 megawatts. This update reviews the main differences between the relevant application and notification procedures.
Including: New efficiency requirements for electric devices; New energy labelling for electronic devices; Extension of prepaid recycling fee to all types of battery; List of clean construction machine engines; Reduced fees for certain heavy vehicles; New energy labelling for passenger vehicles; Incentives to lower CO2 emissions of passenger vehicles; Amendments to Ordinance on Biocidal Products.
The Federal Supreme Court recently confirmed the scope of the 'polluter pays' principle. The possessor of a contaminated site at the time of its clean-up is always a polluter for environmental law purposes and the persons that caused the pollution must bear the costs of the clean-up. The court specified that a cost share of between 10% and 30% might be inappropriate if the persons concerned are not responsible for the pollution.
Including: Brownfield sites; Chemicals; VOC emissions; Carbon emissions; Vehicles; Pipelines; Air pollution; Noise protection; Electronic waste.
The Supreme Court has ruled that litter falls into the category of domestic waste and the 'polluter pays' principle applies to litter disposal costs. Each waste holder is not required to cover the exact disposal costs for its own waste; rather, it is sufficient that all waste producers cover the full disposal costs. This decision follows a complaint by retailers charged a fee to cover the costs of removing litter from public areas.
The 'polluter pays' principle states that anyone who causes measures to be taken under the Environmental Protection Law must bear the related costs. However, with regard to sites that were polluted a long time ago, the issue arises of how long the polluter is exposed to potential liability for clean-up costs.
Two key principles apply when the courts are asked to consider noise from traffic sources such as roads, railways and aircraft. The precautionary principle provides that noise emissions should primarily be reduced at source, while the principle of proportionality states that remediation is required only if it is technically and operationally feasible and economically acceptable.
A broad range of federal, cantonal and voluntary private measures are promoting enhanced real estate sustainability in Switzerland. The involvement of private enterprises, foundations and associations leads to a well-balanced and flexible system. The carbon dioxide tax, in particular, makes fossil fuels more expensive and provides a direct incentive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
A draft law on energy efficiency pursues good intentions, but may share the fate of many other pieces of Ukrainian legislation. Rather than declaring principles and seeking to address the problems of emissions and alternative energy, the draft should concentrate on advancing specific efficiency measures and testing their feasibility; it could start by considering the role of consumers and market mechanisms more closely.
The Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency recently imposed an obligation on companies dealing with chemicals, hazardous and radioactive materials and wastes and other materials that may have an adverse effect on the environment to obtain environmental permits. The first permits are now being issued to new and existing projects and facilities in Abu Dhabi.
In accordance with Cabinet Resolutions 23/2001 and 122/2002, two more so-called 'flags of convenience' have been added to the United Arab Emirate's list denying vessels of these administrations from entering UAE territorial waters unless they are classified by a member of the International Association of Classification Societies.
The executive regulations for the implementation of the Federal Law for the Protection and Development of the Environment (24/1999) have been issued by Council of Ministers Decision 37 of 2001. The decision regulates pollution (including pollutants and various chemicals) and outlines the procedures for obtaining licences and other approvals from the appropriate bodies.
New legislation includes Ministerial Decision 277, which regulates fish farming in the United Arab Emirates. Its provisions concern the siting of fish farms with regard to sources of pollution that may impact on them.
An extraordinary meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers responsible for the environment has approved the Declaration on Future Joint Arab Environment Action. This is a culmination of strategies and guidelines for the sustainable use of resources.
Following a 1998 European Union ban of the Gulf states' exported fish, the General Secretariat of Municipalities plans to make a submission to the EU detailing how it will coordinate with different municipalities with a view to lifting the ban.
Over the past few decades a new tier of technology has been developed: nanotechnology, which operates using a new set of principles. The solutions to many challenges, such as those associated with climate change, pollution and food provision, will likely come from inventions involving nanotechnology, but with these benefits may also come new risks.
The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009, which came into force on March 1 2009, transpose the EU Directive on Environmental Liability into UK law and impose two liability regimes for environmental damage.
The Climate Change Act, which recently received royal assent, contains provisions that will set a legally binding target for reducing the United Kingdom's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Among other things, the act requires the government to publish five-yearly carbon budgets and establishes a Committee on Climate Change.
A new regulatory framework for environmental permitting was recently introduced in England and Wales. The new regime simplifies existing permitting and compliance systems and creates a new risk-based, proportionate system that focuses on practical environmental protection and a reduction in the administrative burden placed on both regulators and facility operators.
In 2007 the government introduced the draft Climate Change Bill which will be the first national legislation setting legally binding targets for carbon reduction. The groundwork for one of its measures, the Carbon Reduction Commitment, is already underway.
The English High Court has granted permission to four specialty chemicals companies to proceed with a challenge to the EU Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. The court also agreed to refer part of the challenge to the European Court of Justice.
Continuing a message from his January 2013 inaugural speech, President Obama devoted a portion of his State of the Union address to climate change. He surprised many with his request that Congress enact "market-based" climate change legislation. In addition, Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer recently held a public briefing focused on the science surrounding climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued two new guidance documents on the use of institutional controls at contaminated sites regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, brownfields programmes and other federal programmes. Institutional controls are often an important part of the clean-up at such sites.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently focused on finalising various priorities. As well as releasing a progress report on its study regarding the environmental safety of hydraulic fracturing, the EPA issued its long-awaited boiler maximum achievable control technology rule and final amendments to the 2010 cement manufacturing clean air standards.
Two Republican bicameral lawmakers have indicated that they will introduce and advance a concurrent resolution that would express the sense of Congress that a carbon tax is not in the best interest of the United States. While non-binding, such a vote could publicly gauge the support for a carbon tax.
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued the PCB Bulk Product Waste Reinterpretation, which addresses the regulatory status of building debris that has been in contact with non-liquid polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), such as PCB-containing caulk and paint. This reinterpretation should be taken into account in planning building maintenance or demolition projects.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued its revised Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims – known as its 'Green Guides' – which contain guidance on how product marketers should use environmental claims in their advertising and packaging. The FTC intends these revisions to encourage marketers to support clearly claims of their products' environmental benefits.
The Bill on Solid Waste and Residues has been drafted to address disparities between the primary and secondary legislation on this issue. The bill provides for fees, subsidies and financial resources, as well penalties for actions or omissions as appropriate. Administrative liability will not exclude liability under civil or criminal law.
A recent Environment Ministry resolution establishes the requirements that individuals or corporations (whether public or private) must meet in order to register with the Registry for Activities Liable to Degrade the Environment and obtain an authorization from the ministry to handle hazardous substances, materials and waste.
The main purpose of the Environmental Conservation Bill is to boost the role played by the state in protecting the environment. Under the bill, the state must take into account environmental considerations when drawing up plans, programmes, projects and processes concerning domestic economic development.
Decree 2,014 creates a permanent national committee on environmental technical standards. Its purpose is to coordinate and maintain a process for the examination, preparation, review and updating of such standards, in order to ensure sustainable development and an improved quality of life for the population of Venezuela.
The Metropolitan Ordinance on a System for Handling Non-hazardous Waste Services aims to conserve natural resources and minimize adverse environmental impact. The provisions cover the performance of all activities involved in non-hazardous waste management, such as inspection, handling, supervision, control and examination.
The National Assembly has issued a statement (Official Gazette 37,457 of June 4 2002) declaring the importance of environmental matters and the necessity of timely, efficient and effective answers to environmental problems, particularly through the participation of parliamentary bodies.
Long-awaited changes to environmental regulation in Zambia became law with the repeal and replacement of the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act by the Environmental Management Act. The new act shifts the focus from mere protection of the environment to environmental management by all stakeholders. This change in approach imposes greater obligations on operators in the extractive industries