About the Slite quarry permit, 2021
On 6 July 2021 it was announced that the Land and Environment Court of Appeal has rejected Cementa's application for a continued limestone quarrying permit in Slite on the island of Gotland.
In short, the judgment means that the majority of Swedish cement production is at risk of ceasing shortly after 31 October 2021, when the current quarrying permit expires. After a process that has lasted almost 5 years since the first application was submitted, the Land and Environment Court has, without requesting any additional information, decided to reject Cementa's application at such a late and critical stage. The technical documentation presented is among the most rigorous produced for similar application processes and our ground water model has been widely accepted in the past. The Court's conclusion therefore comes as a total surprise.“It is a very serious situation that first and foremost affects our operations and our employees in Slite, but it also poses significant challenges for the Swedish construction sector," said Giv Brantenberg, General Manager HeidelbergCement Northern Europe.
Cementa has submitted its application for a temporary permit for limestone quarrying in Slite. The purpose of the permit is to ensure, as far as possible, the supply of cement in Sweden for the next 3 years.The ambition is to be able to extract limestone stone within the already authorised area in Slite, but to do so over a longer period of time. The overall reason for this is to reduce the risk of serious disruption to the Swedish cement supply in the coming years, and therefore the time horizon is of great importance.The permit applied for from the Government covers a volume of limestone which, with the phasing out of exports and adjustments to operation, will last for about a year in normal operating conditions. However, Cementa's application extends over a longer period. It is partly a matter of providing reasonable conditions for the practical management of the phasing-in of external limestone from third party and allowing for the necessary regulatory approvals. It is also about allowing time for an application to the Land and Environmental Court for a shorter permit of 3-4 years to be processed.The temporary permit is one of three currently pending permit applications from Cementa. The goal is to have a long-term permit in place as soon as possible, extending at least 20-30 years.
The Swedish Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) is the body in Sweden reviewing new laws (bills) proposed by the Government and which the Government intends to submit to the Parliament for adoption. Today, the Council announced that it rejects the proposed law as drafted. The main arguments for rejecting are a) that the time allowed by the Government for the referral parties (e g authorities, NGO's, trade associations and affected individual companies) to submit their comments on the bill was too short (in fact less than a week) and b) that the principle of generality under Swedish law (meaning that a law cannot be made for the benefit of a single subject only but should be general in nature) was not adhered to.
Immediately after the Council's announcement today, Cementa issued a press release stating that "We note that there is nothing raised by the Council that would not be possible to remedy in the continued preparations by the Government of the legislative matter" and that " Cementa has no further comments at this stage".
The Supreme Court announced that Cementa will not be granted leave to appeal. The appeal concerns the decision of the Land and Environment Court of Appeal of 6 July, which rejected Cementa's application for extended limestone extraction in Slite as of 1 November.
“It is regrettable that the Supreme Court did not grant leave to appeal, but at the same time we have been prepared for this outcome. The decision does not affect our ongoing work, we will continue with the other initiatives that we started immediately when we received the decision from the Land and Environment Court of Appeal in July”, said Karin Comstedt Webb, Cementa's Head of Sustainability.
Cementa held a press conference to present the measures the company is working on to secure the supply of cement to the Swedish market. Cementa also gave its views on what is required in cooperation with politics and authorities to secure the cement supply in Sweden in the short and long term.
Cementa is now working with several legal and practical measures, including new permit applications, preparing its for altered operations and sourcing of limestone from third party for a limited period of time.
Cementa has today submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Land and Environment Court to reject Cementa's application for permission to continue quarrying limestone in Slite.Cementa argues, for example, that the decision of the Land and Environment Court of Appeal was based on incorrect handling by the court. The case also raises a number of legal issues on which the Supreme Court should provide guidance.
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