The first Newsflash contribution deals with the amendment of the Austrian EIA act. The amendment became necessary after an infringement procedure of the EC as to certain thresholds in the Annex of the Austrian act. The amendment was heavily disputed in the negotiation process. The public concerned wanted improvements of public participation and access to justice provisions and to lower the Annex high thresholds that exclude many projects from EIA, even without screen procedure. Industry lobbied to water down existing standards; in particular they aimed for exceptions in projects such as power plant since they would serve for public interest of energy security. The result was a compromise. For example NGOs gained access to the highest administrative court in the simplified procedure. On the other hand the developer can continue constructions for one year, even though the highest court abolishes the decisions. NGOs furthermore aimed to have a stronger climate change assessment in the EIA. An initial proposal for a climate/energy permitting requirement by the MoE EIA amendement bill was lobbied out by industry. However, developers need to provide an energy and climate concept in the environmental impact statement now, even though this will not be a strict permitting requirement.
Text number two deals with the Commission report on the application and effectiveness of the EIA Directive, which was issued in July 2009. The report is partially rather critical, in particular as regards screening (question id an EIA is carried out at all) and scoping (which information the authority can demand). The report states that the member states have, in many cases, exceeded their margins of discretion in these fields, in particular as regards the establishment of thresholds for the realization of EIAs. Still the report states that the overall objective of the Directive has been achieved. The fact that the introduction of the EIA Directive has lead to the establishing of comprehensive EIA regimes in all member states is mentioned as a positive highlight.
The third text describes the new UK Act on Climate Change. The Act contains ambitious emission reduction goals of 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (both as compared to the 1990 or 1995 base years, depending on the type of gas). Nevertheless these targets may be changed according to a procedure laid down in the Act. Apart from reduction targets a system for the budgeting of greenhouse gasses, national emissions trading system and a commission on climate change are introduced.
The last text describes the so-called Almaty Guidelines of the Aarhus Convention. The guidelines have been issued on the basis of the Aarhus Convention and contain recommendations on how to involve the public in international fora. The focus is on access to information and participation and, in this context5 particularly important, on financial assistance for the public.
geändert am 15.10.2009