Millions for Environmental Law Projects

17 januari 2017

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency recently decided to fund two research projects connected to the Law Faculty. Jan Darpö, project leader for “Species Protection and the Decision Making Process” received almost SEK 3.3 million, and Charlotta Zetterberg received approximately SEK 4.7 million for “Nature Protection and Dispensation”.

Environmental Law Professor Jan Darpö and Dr. Maria Forsberg, both from the Uppsala Law Faculty, and Jonas Sandström from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, will collaborate on the project “Species Protection and the Decision Making Process,” which has been funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency with SEK 3 287 687.

The project, which is collaboration between legal scientists and ecologists, will closely analyze how natural scientific knowledge is used and can be used in the environmental decision making process, both by government agencies and by courts. Environmental law must deal with technical and natural science knowledge and risk assessment in the evaluation of the impact of human activities upon the environment.

This research concerns the use of natural science knowledge in cases concerning land-use and species protection, focusing on two scenarios; permits for wind farms and forestry. It aims at analysing how scientific knowledge is implemented in procedures and reflected in the decisions. The project will study the processes by which the environmental decisions are reached, including the involvement of the public, the interaction of different types of specialist knowledge and how well the administration and the courts are equipped to decide on complex technical issues.

Uppsala Faculty of Law’s Professor in Environmental Law Charlotta Zetterberg has along with her colleagues Associate Professor Anna Christiernsson and doctoral student Yaffa Epstein, and Associate Professor Guillaume Chapron of SLU received SEK 4 767 419 from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency for their project “Nature Protection and Dispensation.”

The project in short: Several of Sweden’s environmental objectives related to biological diversity are considered unlikely to be achieved by 2020. According to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s report, half of the species and three quarters of the habitat types that Sweden is obligated to protect by the Habitats Directive do not have favourable conservation status. Policy instruments such as laws and regulations aim to meet these obligations, but have thus far failed to do so. Possible reasons for this failure may be that the environmental laws or goals themselves are insufficient to protect biological diversity, that these goals are not adequately considered in relation to economic interests in decision making, or that they are not adequately enforced. The Environmental Code must be applied in such a way that biological diversity is preserved. Nevertheless, activities that are potentially harmful to nature or species may be allowed under special circumstances.

The goal of this project is to examine how these strong environmental protections are applied by the county boards and municipalities in granting dispensation from nature protection laws. Special attention is paid to how Code’s general rules of consideration on precautionary measures, siting decisions, and determinations of appropriateness should be interpreted. There is currently a lack of guidance, which may result in measures that are ineffective for reaching environmental goals. This project seeks to identify factors that contribute to or hinder the attainment of environmental objectives and the legal certainty of the dispensation procedure, and to make concrete recommendations for improving policy instruments and their application.

More on the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency