Kemijoki – Changes in Water Law Obligations and Supervision of Interests

We are advising Kemijoki Oy in a process involving changes to the company’s fishery obligations under water law. The process was initiated by an application submitted by the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) concerning the obligations of the company’s hydropower plants located in the Kemijoki River and Raudanjoki River. We are assisting the company in responding to the ELY Centre’s application.

The process is a significant precedent in Finnish water law. If the ELY Centre’s application is approved as is, the company would incur financial losses of EUR 700–800 million. The Kemijoki River is one of Finland’s most significant rivers that has been harnessed for the production of electricity. Hydropower from large rivers is a major form of regulating energy production in Finland. Hydropower is domestic and in practice emissions-free. The approval of the application would have a major negative impact on the possibility to produce hydropower on the Kemijoki River and, thus, on the functioning of the Finnish electrical system, security of supply and climate change mitigation.

There is a great deal of pressure for changes to Finnish water legislation, which, if implemented, would fundamentally alter one of the cornerstones of Finnish water law, i.e. the strong protection of the permanence of permit decisions. We are extensively assisting the company in the supervision of its interests in relation to these pressures.