English Summary of NEWSFLASH 2021 - May

The problems with online notification platforms

Online notification platforms were created as part of the implementation of the Aarhus Convention in federal law and the laws of the federal states. Public authorities are obliged to upload their administrative decisions and procedural notices there. The delivery of the documents triggers time limits for environmental organisations to participate in the proceedings or to file a complaint with the administrative courts. However, the inconsistent provisions in the various material laws as well as the complexity of the platforms carry the risk of overlooking certain documents and missing the deadlines. ÖKOBÜRO therefore demands a uniform solution and the training of public authorities to fulfil their public notice obligations.

ECJ rules on access to justice directly applying the Aarhus Convention

The public has extensive rights to appeal against decisions on environmental matters. This right is even broader for members of the public concerned, i.e. persons having an interest in a decision, including environmental NGOs. In these cases it is not permitted to exclude persons from the right to appeal if a person or organisation did not participate in the previous decision-making procedure. However, if other members of the public are also granted participatory rights, their right to appeal may be limited to participation beforehand. The present case regarding a Dutch pig farm, which did not fall under the EIA Directive, lead the ECJ to directly apply the provisions of the Aarhus Convention. The outcome raises doubts also regarding certain preclusion provisions regarding EIA and nature assessment procedures in Austrian law.