4. English Summary

Possible replacement of “Environmental Senate” with “Infrastructure Senate” alarms environmentalists

Only recently the Austrian Administrative Court ruled that the “Environmental Senate”, which is a tribunal attached to the Ministry of Environment, is competent for appeals against permit decisions taken in the course of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) proceedings concerning large transport infrastructure. Now the Ministry for Transport is trying to implement a new “Infrastructure Senate” situated in the Ministry, which is supposed to exclusively decide over those appeals. The problem in this context is that the Ministry of Transport is the authority issuing the permit decisions regarding large transport infrastructure projects in first instance. Even though there is no direct possibility to influence the senate (it is established as independent body), the fact that it is supposed to be located within the Ministry for Transport leaves a bitter aftertaste. The author pronounces himself for strengthening the existing “Environmental Senate”.

 

Study about the introduction of a provision on the security of the energy supply in the of the Electricity Industry and -organisation Act regarding the approval processes of e electric power plants

ÖKOBÜRO conducted a study about a newly enacted provision and its impact on different approval processes. The provision says “public interest in supplies of energy, especially when extracted from domestic renewable resources, has to be considered in evaluation processes of infrastructure projects”. The study analyzes approval processes in general, the impact of the amendment and recent jurisprudence. 

 

Recent case law shows that this provision is nothing new to approval processes in Austria and that there is no general superior public interest in energy extraction from renewable resources. Other public interests such as nature conservation, characteristic landscape, water quality, etc have to be considered in the same way. So the study proves that in approval processes the decision still has to be taken on every single case taking into account all different public interests without any privileges.

 

Delayed implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive in Austria

According to the EU Directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services (2006/32/EC) member states have to adopt and aim to fulfill an overall national indicative energy savings target. This target is to be reached by means of various different measures with the public sector acting as a role model. The deadline for the national transposition of the Directive was May 2008. Austria issued a corresponding piece of transposing legislation only in February 2011. The issue of energy efficiency touches upon the competences of both the provinces and the federal state. Therefore an agreement (on the basis of Art. 15a of the Constitution) was chosen as means of transposing the Directive. However, since the Directive contains no binding savings targets also the Austrian agreement remains mainly indicative.

geändert am 12.05.2011