Lindahl is a leading firm in the field of environmental law offering lawyers who have vast experience of advising private and public clients in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, industry and research infrastructure. Many of our lawyers have worked at courts and environmental authorities or have professional experience from other European countries.
We help clients in all matters relating to environmental law – in both larger projects and day-to-day business. Lindahl can put together a tailor-made team at short notice in which our environmental lawyers collaborate with specialists in fields such as construction, real estate and company law. We have excellent contacts and are very used to collaborating with technical consultants both in Sweden and abroad. Lindahl primarily represents public authorities and companies.
“An extremely wide range with many very experienced specialists. Easy to get in touch with when you need quick help! Work pretty fast – fast and excellent feedback without long waiting times!”
How we help your company
We represent operators in the application process for permits for environmentally hazardous activities and water operations and for power line concessions. We also conduct environmental law reviews and risk assessments in commercial transactions and deal with various forms of disruption, infringement and compensation matters as legal counsels in in and out of court.
Within the framework of transactions and planning before and during land developments, we often deal with and have extensive experience of matters relating to contaminated land. We also carry out regular work as counsel in questions relating to environmental and water and drainage law that arise during municipalities’ work on comprehensive and local development planning.
Energy law is another important aspect of our work, including renewables (e.g., hydro power, wind, solar and bio energy), combustion facilities, energy trading and emissions trading as well as regulatory matters in fields such as electricity and natural gas, hydrogen gas and radiation safety.
We continually monitor and analyse legal developments in our clients’ specialist fields. We regularly invite clients to seminars and can also provide our clients with tailor-made training courses in the field of environmental and energy law.
This is environmental law
Environmental law is an extensive field of law that governs the relationship between man and the external environment. It includes inter alia matters relating to management and control of environmentally hazardous activities, water operations, chemicals, waste management, liability for post-treatment, protection of species and natural areas as well as matters relating to compensation in the event of environmental damage.
Union law is a key factor in Sweden’s environmental law system and its continued development. Since 1999, the main national regulation in the field has been the Environmental Code. The purpose of the Environmental Code, which transposes central parts of EU-law into Swedish law, is to promote sustainable development for current and future generations. In addition, there are a large number of supplementary laws, ordinances and regulations governing various aspects of environmental law.
Environmental law is characterised by a large number of regulations and changes are taking place at a rapid rate not least when it comes to legislation on matters such as waste and chemicals. Environmental law sometimes display parallel applicable regulations. These include for example the Planning and Building Act, the Electricity and Natural Gas Act the Minerals Act, the Act on Measures to Prevent Pollution from Ships and the Forestry Act. Furthermore, many aspects of environmental law, such as environmental quality standards, parts of the species protection regulations and the protection of natural areas, are governed by EU environmental legislation. There are also several international conventions that affect the field of environmental law.
Frequently asked questions
What are water operations and is a permit always required to carry out water operations?
Water operations as a legal concept are defined in the Environmental Code (Ch. 11, Sec. 3). It include all construction or other measures to change the depth or location of water within a water area, the diversion of surface or groundwater or measures to increase the amount of groundwater and land drainage.
Generally, all water operations are subject to a permit, but there are certain activities that are exempted from the permit requirement. For example, water catchments for domestic needs are not subject to a permit if they are intended for single- or two-family properties or for an agricultural property. There is also a general exemption from the permit requirement if obvious that neither public nor private interests are harmed by the impact of the water operations on the water conditions. This exemption does not apply to land drainage. The operator has the burden of proving that the criteria of obviousness is met and the threshold for the applicability of the permit requirement is extremely low. Further, no permit is required for clean-up operations in order to maintain the depth or location of the water and to immediately restore a watercourse that has deviated from its previous location or that has changed its course in some other way (unless this could be detrimental to fishing). There are also some less extensive water operations in which, instead of a permit, it is sufficient to notify the county administrative board.
What responsibility do the municipality, in its capacity as a water and sewer principal, and individual property owners have for storm water management in an area subject to a local zoning plan?
If an area is included in the municipalities public responsibility for storm water , the water and sewer principal is required to arrange the pipes and other equipment needed to manage the storm water. The responsibility of the water and sewer principal relates to the reception of storm water from individual properties as well as the diversion of storm water from public open spaces. In such areas , the individual property owner is responsible for the storm water within the property. That means that the property owner is responsible for ensuring that the storm water that cannot be infiltrated into the ground on his or her own property is drained off to the connection point designated by the water and sewer principal. A property owner also has an obligation, pursuant to the provisions of other associated laws in the Land Code and environmental provisions, to a ensure that the surrounding properties are not damaged (reasonable consideration).
Is a permit under the Environmental Code required in order to build a solar farm?
Solar farms are not subject to any mandatory notification or permit preassessment under the Environmental Code, but are usually notified under a simplified procedure under Ch. 12, Sec. 6 of the Code. Nevertheless, in some cases county administrative boards have ordered operators to carry out a full EIA process according to the requirements applying to so-called “significant environmental impact”, which is otherwise normally reserved for the most environmentally damaging projects. For larger solar farms, it may thus be a question of a kind of indirect permit assessment, despite the fact that the law does not require this and it does not result in a permit with legal force that applies to all and sundry.
Are there any rules leading to simplification of permit assessments for renewable energy sources?
At present, there are no such rules in the Environmental Code. The matter has been investigated several times and the latest proposal from the Environmental Assessment Inquiry is that a Climate Task Force should be established at one of Sweden´s county administrative boards to support all county administrative boards in work on new or changed environmental permits for activities and measures that significantly contribute to achieving the climate goals (SOU 2022:33). Since this is a proposal in a public inquiry, it remains to be seen whether it will lead to the introduction of new regulations. The government which gained power after Sweden’s general election in 2022 has also envisaged the political will to generally simplify parts of the environmental assessment system and to shorten permit procedures.