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Environmental Law

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Denmark

    While there are no provisions in the Danish Constitution on the right to environmental protection, the Constitution guarantees municipalities the right to decide their own affairs under state supervision.

    The Ministry of the Environment is the main authority that administers environmental policy and it is responsible for drafting environmental law. There are three agencies under the Ministry of the Environment:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency
  • The Danish Geodata Agency (GDA)
  • The Danish Nature Agency

Featured Legislation

2004: The Energinet Denmark Act was unveiled. The Minister of Climate and Energy sets rules to implement international conventions on matters regarding environment conservation in the territorial sea of the exclusive economic zone. For this purpose, the Minister establishes and delegates to the independent institution Energinet Denmark (, administrative power and responsibility to ensure efficiency of electricity and gas infrastructure development. shall lay out a comprehensive planning for gas distribution and storage systems by administering cooperation agreements with pipeline enterprises. This Act applies to land and offshore territories in the exclusive economic zone of the Danish continental shelf.

2007: Statutory order no. 1448 was created, setting guidelines for wastewater emissions.

2009: The Soil Contamination Act was promulgated, preventing and eliminating or/and reducing land contamination to avoid adverse effects from soil contamination through technical inspection projects.

2010: The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) was signed, serving as the main environmental law. The EPA sets out the fundamental environmental protection objectives; the means by which to meet these objectives; and the administrative principles by which the agency operates. The Act specifically aims at prevention and control of the pollution of air, water and soil.

2010: Statutory order no. 1411 was introduced, empowering The Nature Agency and its local entities to ensure the overall protection of nature. It is also responsible for the Planning Act, the Act on Environmental Objectives and several other acts regulating nature-related issues.

2011: Statutory order no. 700 was instituted, regulating emissions from coaches and trucks in cities with environmental zones.

2012: Statutory order no. 1451 was established to govern waste incineration plants.

2012: Statutory Order no. 1510/2012 was enacted. Under this Order, Project owners can be fined if the governing authority is not notified or work is started before a required EIA is carried out.

2014: The Chemical Substances and Products Act was enacted, aiming to prevent health hazards; unnecessary environmental impact and environmental damage during production, storage, use and disposal of chemical substances; and products in order to reduce problems associated with waste disposal.

2014: Order No. 1570 on CO2 emission allowance was passed. The Order covers:

  • Energy-generating plants with at least 20MW input, including industrial plants and offshore plants
  • Refineries and coke ovens
  • The ferrous metals industry exceeding a certain production capacity
  • Cement, glass and ceramic (tiles) companies exceeding a certain production capacity
  • Pulp and paper companies exceeding a certain capacity

2016: Order No. 342 on Denmark-Germany cooperation for the protection of waterbodies was issued. This Order sets out rules on the cooperation between Danish and German (Schleswig-Holstein) water planning authorities on the protection of surface and groundwater in the international river basin district. These are defined as river basins and include the cross-border catchment areas for the watercourses Vidå, Kruså, Meden Å and Jardelund Grøft as well as the coastal area south of Vidås estuary in the Wadden Sea. The aim of such cooperation between the two countries is to establish significant water management plans and policies for the protection from groundwater pollution and deterioration

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Hjarnø Havbrug, a business operating in Denmark, is facing charges for emitting large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus into the sea. The Southeast Jutland Police in Denmark report that the prosecution has brought charges in a major environmental case of fish farming with production in and out of Horsens Fjord. Hjarnø Havbrug is believed to have violated 31 conditions, resulting in a profit of EUR 25.4 million. Danish police are demanding that the money be confiscated, accusing the company of providing false information to both the municipality, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Danish Fisheries Agency during the period 2014 to 2018 about the supply of juvenile fish by sea farms, production, feed consumption and nutrient discharge. The violations took place over a period from 2013-2018 and police have been investigating the owner and the company since 2015 after receiving reports from community members.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment: