21 May 2024, 14:05
Jack McGovan

Govt coalition agrees reform to speed up planning and permission process for Germany's infrastructure

Clean Energy Wire / Tagesspiegel Background

A law reform agreed by lawmakers from Germany's government coalition would speed up approval processes around the planning and construction of new infrastructure projects without lowering environmental standards, the coalition parties said in a joint statement. The MPs proposal would amend the Federal Immission Control Act and in certain cases remove the need for approval before construction can start, reported newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. If projects later on are found to not meet standards to avoid noise pollution or other undesired side effects, the projects will have to be dismantled and the affected area restored. Industry sources say, however, that all submitted procedures are usually approved, according to Tagesspiegel.

“Today's agreement between the parliamentary groups on the amendment to the Federal Immission Control Act is a milestone on the way to faster and less bureaucratic procedures,” said economy and climate minister Robert Habeck. Habeck highlighted the expansion of wind energy as a beneficiary of the proposed amendment, though other industrial projects will also be affected.

The proposal follows the model of a change in law which made it easier to build liquid natural gas terminals during the energy price crisis, the article said. Environmental Action Germany (DUH) criticised the proposed law: Shortened processes "have so far been an exception and not the rule for good reason,” said the NGO's Cornelia Nicklas, adding that environmental standards could be undermined. Other environmental groups have said that it could threaten investment security, with nobody wanting to build in Germany with the threat of having to tear facilities down looming over projects, the article said.

Last year, chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a “Pact for Germany” which would attempt to reduce bureaucracy for renewable energy projects. Bureaucracy has often been blamed for slowing down the expansion of renewable energy projects like wind farms.

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