European business briefs: European court, Finnish nuclear power, Wind agreement, Irish waste laws, environmentally friendly shipyards

The European Commission's head of environmental legal enforcement stated this week that bringing the ten new EU Member States into line with EU environmental law presents "serious problems" and a "real challenge". He said there were currently 561 pieces of binding environmental legislation that should have been transposed in their national laws by now, but much of which could take up to 11 years, due to building costly infrastructure. He said that he welcomed the idea of launching an environmental court.

One of the world’s largest nuclear power plants is under construction in Finland, raising the long dormant atomic power industry’s hopes for a revival but evoking fears among opponents of lethal accidents and waste. The €3 billion project is the only new nuclear reactor being built in western Europe where nations such as Germany and Finland’s neighbour Sweden have decided to phase out their existing atomic power stations. If the 1,600 megawatt Olkiluoto-3 reactor is opened in 2009, it could herald a new dawn for nuclear power, supporters have said, who argue Europe won’t meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets without more nuclear energy.

European energy trading business EGL has signed an agreement to acquire a 35% stake in the Norwegian Wind Power Developer Norsk Miljodraft AS (NMK). Through this acquisition, EGL gains proprietary access to further develop wind power sites in Europe, and subsequently to green energy and green certificates. The deal is due to be closed 1 November 2004.

New Irish Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Mr Dick Roche has stated that action against illegal waste activity will take a high priority in his ministerial role. He pledged his fullest support for the Environmental Protection Agency and stated: “I am determined that the policy of dealing aggressively with those who engage in environmental crime will be intensified during my period in office.”

And finally, Bondship, an initiative to be funded with €4.6 million under the Sustainable Surface Transport programme of the EU’s Framework Programme, has suggested that shipyards throughout Europe could become more environmentally friendly and competitive by moving away from welding and using adhesive bonding for joining lightweight materials. It predicts that over a period of 20 years, savings of between 8,000 and 16,000 tonnes of diesel could be made, translating into between €1.6 and €3.2 million.

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