Tasks and cooperation between environmental authorities

Cooperation between environmental authorities

Environmental work is clearly divided between central and regional administrations and municipal departments.

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for legislation and is the authority in charge of major national tasks as well as particularly complex tasks.

The Environmental Protection Agency prepares legislation and guidelines and grants authorisations in several areas. Further duties include the monitoring of chemicals and offshore platforms.

Together with the Copenhagen office, the decentralised unit in Aarhus authorise and monitor approximately 400 enterprises and local waste handling facilities.

The municipalities are responsible for granting permits and inspection of other enterprises and also carry out the majority of specific public sector duties. The municipalities are typically the point of contact for the general public and for companies wishing to access information on the environment.

The Danish Regions are charged with the generation of regional development plans. They undertake special tasks in the areas of soil contamination and raw materials.

The Nature Protection and Environmental Board of Appeal deals with complaints within the remit of the Ministry of the Environment of Denmark.

Milestones in the work of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency

Preparedness for the environmental challenges of the future is a permanent requirement for the Environmental Protection Agency. We fulfil this part of the public service agreement by setting long-term strategic goals as a framework for generating performance objectives.

Globalisation and technological development are two important factors which already influence environmental policy and thus the tasks faced by the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the government and the Danish Parliament.

They are trends that look set to continue. The aim of strategic sight lines is to set a general course for the work of the Agency and to identify important milestones. This prepares the Agency for tackling future challenges in specialist areas. An essential element is the continued ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to recruit employees whose skills match the requirements we will be facing.

Continued international focus

The international dimension is a prominent feature in Environmental Protection Agency work. In particular, EU cooperation constitutes a significant part of Danish environmental policy and monitoring.

Nordic cooperation on environmental issues is also important. Issues such as chemical substances and dangerous waste can only be properly addressed in international collaboration, preferably at global level. The environmental and health impacts of chemical substances is a field that will continue to undergo national and international scrutiny in the coming years.

The National Community of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland lends another dimension to international cooperation. Pollutants in the Arctic can often be an indicator of global pollution. Denmark gives environmental support in the Arctic to the tune of DKK 30 million each year. This subsidises a large part of the National Community's Arctic monitoring programme and is part of our commitment to the environmental work of the Arctic Council. The focus areas of this work are the environment, health, biodiversity, the sustainable use of living resources and the local environment.

The growing significance of international cooperation means that the Environmental Protection Agency, on Denmark's behalf, must play a part in international decisions at an early stage. We must implement EU regulations in a manner that takes account of Denmark's situation.

In protecting the environment, we must aim for simple, comprehensible rules that constitute the least possible administrative burden on business and the general public. At the same time we must ensure that fields of action are mutually supportive at both national and international levels. A high quality environment and sustainable growth go hand in hand.

Eco-technology and innovation

Eco-technology must be used to ensure that products and production methods respect the environment. The use of scarce resources must be minimised. Climate change, water and pollution to the air are further problems that increase as populations grow and countries such as India and China experience surges of economic growth.

Further development of eco-efficient technologies will help to create economic growth without a corresponding deterioration of the environment. At the same time, increased exports of Danish environmental and energy technologies help Denmark's reputation as an innovative, environmentally conscious nation.

Efficiency, oversight and the grass roots angle

The government's intention is for environmental policy to be prioritised, efficient and targeted. The pros and cons of each initiative must be presented systematically in as far as is possible. One consequence of this approach is the need for the Environmental Protection Agency to forecast, in even more detail, the financial implications of each environmental initiative. More deployment of environmental economy tools is the way forward.

There will also be enhanced attention to simplification, legal rights and clarity in legislation. Rules and laws must be made comprehensible and clear so that businesses can easily follow them without experiencing an unnecessary administrative burden. Finally, attention to the minor, but important, choices that people make every day is pivotal for the environmental policy of the future. Our habits when purchasing goods, commuting to work and washing clothes have a collective impact on the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency must therefore work towards environmental awareness on the part of the individual as an important milestone in environmental policy.