Protection of Species in Environmental Decision-making
An interdisciplinary research program on the integration of scientific evidence in administrative and judicial procedures (PROSPEC)
Environmental law must deal with technical and natural science knowledge and risk assessment in the evaluation of the impact of human activities upon the environment. Legal criteria often include concepts such as “the continued ecological functionality of breeding sites”, “significant effect on the environment” or “favourable conservation status”, all relating to natural science factors. Accordingly, one must be able to manage scientific knowledge and uncertainty at various stages of decision-making procedures, from the first level of the administration to the courts. This research concerns the use of natural science knowledge in cases concerning land-use and species protection, focusing on two scenarios; permits for wind farms and forestry. It aims at analysing how scientific knowledge is implemented in procedures and reflected in the decisions. We will study the processes by which the environmental decisions are reached, including the involvement of the public, the interaction of different types of specialist knowledge and how well the administration and the courts are equipped to decide on complex technical issues. From this material, we will draw conclusions on how best to ensure that the processes incorporate necessary scientific considerations in relation to species protection, including mechanisms for the involvement of the public. Also, we will use these conclusions in the formulation of suggested common standards of “good governance” for environmental decision-making and judicial review on a more general level, applicable on a wide range of activities that have an impact on the environment; from the phase of rule-making, via the approval to the enforcement and sanctions.
VIPA - Wind power and unforeseen impacts on species
This research project deals with wind farms and their impact on species. When permits are issued for these installations, it is under the prerequisite that there will be no significant effect on the conservation status on protected species (birds, bats, lichens etc.). In order to avoid unforeseen damage, conditions for investigations and monitoring are issued in the permits. The aim of our project is to, first, analyse how these follow-up requirements are regulated in a formal sense in the permits during a two year period. Thereafter, we will study how the investigation and control is performed in a number of permits for installations in operation. Here, also information on impacts on species from the public concerned will be taken into account. Finally, we will analyse how enforcement authorities deal with situations where such damage has occurred, whereafter recommendations will be proposed.