On July 5th the Austrian parliament enacted an amendment of the Act on EIA. During the decision making process many civil society organizations or also concerned individuals showed the importance to change the existing act through numerous different statements. A special remedy for NGOs for screening decisions was implemented. This improvement in public participation did not reach the standards required by international law. Therefore ÖKOBÜRO together with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Austria, WWF, VIER PFOTEN and Justice & Environment especially criticized insufficient public participation within screening procedures, drawbacks of neighbour rights, extended dispossession proceedings and claimed (again) reductions of threshold levels. The newly enacted amendment is an improvement, but did not provide an effective legal framework to ensure the environmental compatibility of projects with severe effects on the environment.
Finally the amendment of the administrative jurisdiction was enacted – In the future eleven administrative courts will replace the administrative appeal stages. Appellate EIA procedures are going to be decided by the Federal Administrative Court – regarding infrastructure projects, this leads to a substantial improvement of legal protection. On the other hand the new jurisdiction model might deteriorate legal protection before the Administrative Court. A current debate at parliamentary level is held on a new legal instrument called "legal complaint" – in the course of this debate the abolition of the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court on fundamental rights in administrative matters is discussed. So the question arises if we really are heading towards structural simplifications or whether we are endangering essential elements of constitutional human rights protection by these reforms?
J&E carried out a legal analysis of the case law of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee of 2008-2011. The publication summarizes selected cases before the Committee and includes examinations of respective findings and a collection of practical conclusions derived. The analysis focuses especially on user needs and interprets the case law also understandable for lay-persons.
geändert am 30.08.2012