A modern and efficient environmental assessment. That is the purpose of the new inquiry that the government has appointed today. Svemin has for many years criticized Sweden’s inefficient system for environmental assessments and therefore welcomes Tuesday’s announcement.
– We look forward to being involved and contributing constructively to the inquiry, says Maria Sunér Fleming, CEO Svemin.
The Swedish Government announced today that it has appointed an inquiry to review the current system for environmental assessment and submit proposals for the changes and measures required to achieve a more modern and effective environmental assessment. The purpose is to facilitate climate-improving investments through horizontal changes in the environmental assessment process and to achieve faster and simpler assessment processes while ensuring maintained environmental protection.
–The issues regarding the permit processes are absolutely crucial for the development of the mining industry – and the biggest obstacle to development. All our operations require various forms of permits, and since our operations are constantly evolving when a mine is gradually mined, new permits are needed at regular intervals. That this investigation, which has been announced for a long time, is finally starting, we see as very positive, says Maria Sunér Fleming, CEO of Svemin.
Svemin’s legal counsel and director of land and exploration issues, Kerstin Brinnen further develops the reasoning:
Svemin has criticized today’s inefficient system for many years. What does this investigation mean for the mining industry?
–In the short term, it means no changes as the investigation will continue until the end of 2021, but in the longer term we hope that the investigation makes clear proposals on how the environmental assessment process can be streamlined and that decisions are implemented through the necessary changes, says Kerstin Brinnen.
Can the mining industry breathe a sigh of relief now?
–No. But now we at least have terms of reference of a commission of inquiry to start from in order to push for the changes that we consider necessary. The inquiry directives do not cover everything that needs to be changed, but they open up for changes on several important points, says Kerstin Brinnen.
When can there be a real change / improvement in the system?
–The investigation will last for over a year and after that, any bills will be anchored and decided. It will thus take several years before we see the results of the investigation. On the other hand, I believe that there is room for improvement already with existing legislation because much is about how the Environmental Code is applied rather than the provisions themselves, says Kerstin Brinnen.
Why is the inquiry coming right now?
–I can not answer why it took so long, but this is not a day too early. The Swedish Parliament has repeatedly called on the government to do something about the criticized permit processes, and the current system was criticized as early as 2015 for its shortcomings in efficiency and legal certainty. It is good that the government has now finally appointed an inquiry to improve the situation, says Kerstin Brinnen.
The investigation must be reported no later than 15 December 2021.
Photo: Jeanette Hägglund/Boliden