Land and Environment Court of Appeal (Mark- och Miljööverdomstolen) has today decided to reject Cementa’s application for continued and expanded quarry operations on Gotland. The justification is that the company’s environmental impact statement contains such shortcomings that there are procedural obstacles to examining the application.
– It is with surprise and frustration that we took part in the decision today, says Maria Sunér, CEO of Svemin.
The permit process for the now rejected application began at the end of 2017 and has thus been ongoing for approximately 3.5 years. In January last year, the Land and Environment Court granted a permit for the activity applied for, but the permit was appealed by, among others, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the County Administrative Board on Gotland. Several private individuals and a number of interest groups also appealed the permit.
– This is an example of why the provisions of the Environmental Code need to be reviewed to make the permit processes more predictable and appropriate, says Kerstin Brinnen, Director Legal Affairs, Svemin. It is not reasonable for the applicant to remain in uncertainty for several years as to whether a planned activity will be allowed or not. It is obvious that we have fundamental shortcomings in the system.
In practice, this means that the ongoing activities are also jeopardized as the current permit is limited in time and expires on 31 October this year. This means that the national cement supply ends up in a crisis situation according to Cementa.
– The immediate consequences of the decision clearly shows that time-limited permits are very unsuitable for industries with on-site processes that require large resources in the form of both time and money to develop and adjust. The uncertainty that time-limited permits, and the unpredictable permit processes, cause, jeopardizes important investment decisions and, in the long run, employment, socially important production and tax revenues, says Kerstin Brinnen. There is no time to lose. It is an emergency situation to change the legislation so that companies are given a legally secure and competitive framework for their existence.
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The factory in Slite is one of the largest and most modern cement factories in Europe and it accounts for most of the cement used in Sweden. The permit is crucial for the long-term supply of cement for ongoing and large infrastructure projects such as the new Slussen, Förbifart Stockholm and Västlänken. At the same time, a renewed permit means that Cementa can make the extensive investments and research required for the cement industry to cope with climate change. Cementa and HeidelbergCement Northern Europe have a vision of cement for climate-neutral concrete by 2030. A vision that means zero carbon dioxide emissions during the lifetime of the concrete product.