Austrian Supreme Administrative Court gives victory for species protection in Austria
The Supreme Administrative Court (VwGH) has strengthened the rights of environmental organizations in the regulatory process. In a recent decision regarding an ordinance to kill otters (lutra lutra), the court ruled that environmental NGOs must be involved in administrative procedures concerning EU environmental law and be provided with effective judicial protection. This addresses the issue of non-compliant removal ordinances for protected species like fish otters, beavers, and wolves, which do not allow for individual case assessments and lack public participation and legal protection, violating the Aarhus Convention. The VwGH's decision now allows environmental NGOs to challenge such regulations in Austria. This marks a significant milestone in species protection law. ÖKOBÜRO and WWF Austria have been advocating for the implementation of the Aarhus Convention and a clear interpretation of exceptions to strict protection. They emphasize the need for full compliance with the Aarhus convention and call for a return to a narrower interpretation of exceptions to ensure species' well-being.
Legal challenge to Council Regulation 2022/2577 foralleged violation of international and EU law
The environmental organizations bankwatch CEE and ÖKOBÜRO have challenged Council Regulation 2022/2577, aiming to expedite renewable energy projects in the EU, citing violations of international and EU law. The case will now be appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The regulation allows member states to exempt themselves from environmental impact assessments and certain conservation provisions. While the energy transition is important, bypassing nature conservation and public participation is not the solution. The Council argues that the regulation empowers member states without obliging them, and that the Aarhus Convention and public participation were sufficiently considered. However, these arguments are not convincing as the compliance with treaties like the Alpine and the Aarhus Convention too lies with the EU. The challenge targets the Council's response and may lead to a substantive review of the regulation by the ECJ. The outcome will have implications for future emergency measures regulations and related negotiations.