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How the fabulous hoopoe is crippling our sustainable energy future

How the fabulous hoopoe is crippling our sustainable energy future

Again and again, legendary sightings of animals ensure that the expansion of the infrastructure, which is essential for a climate-friendly energy supply, is prevented for years or decades.

editorial staff
21 January 2022 09:06

Exotic migratory birds, rare stork species, mysterious beavers, but also other “reasons for complaints” from conservationists and project opponents in the context of environmental impact assessments have contributed significantly to the fact that there have been massive delays in infrastructure expansion in Germany for decades. The alleged endangerment of the animals mentioned delayed, for example, the approval procedures for buildings in the area of ​​electricity infrastructure and the construction of the Linz Westring Autobahn for years. Not only were ornithologists and other costly appraisers tried for years to find them, the search for the fabulous creatures was ultimately unsuccessful.

IV Secretary General Christoph Neumayer

Regrettably, it is currently common practice in the administrative procedure that it is possible to “follow up” grounds for complaints. Project opponents can therefore submit further grounds for complaint even after the deadline has expired – which is used as a “strategic means” for intentionally delaying the proceedings. This approach has drastic consequences for domestic energy and infrastructure projects: a domestic cement manufacturer has been waiting for approval to expand its capacity for more than 18 years. The pumped storage power plant project in the Tyrolean Kühtai had to wait 10 years and the 380 kV line in Salzburg was only decided after eight years by the highest court.

An efficient infrastructure is essential to achieve the ambitious climate goals by 2030 – but also to ensure a modern, competitive business location

Faster and more efficient: The Federation of Industry, the Chamber of Commerce and Österreichs Energie drew attention to these circumstances in a joint press conference a few days ago and called for a significant acceleration and increase in efficiency in the environmental impact assessment procedure. IV General Secretary Christoph Neumayer: “A bundle of measures is needed that offers investment security, increases acceptance and accelerates procedures”.

In the catalog submitted jointly, the interest groups list important points that are to be included in the work currently underway in the Ministry of Climate Protection to amend the EIA Act. Arguments and grounds for appeal are to be presented within an agreed timetable, compensatory measures are to be decoupled from the approval, and grounds for appealing before the Federal Administrative Court are also to be dropped. In addition, business and industry representatives are calling for a “fast track” for “renewable” energy projects that are of particular public interest. A significant increase in efficiency in the EIA procedure should be achieved through increased use of the Internet and the use of digital technologies. All those involved agree that good projects must have a fair chance, which is why they demand realistic scenarios in the approval decision, legal certainty for investors and the sharing of valuable information and relevant data.

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