Engaging the public: improving environmental law and acceptance
ÖKOBÜRO is always working to help environmental protection achieve a breakthrough in legal proceedings put before Austrian authorities and courts. To this end, we lobby for the continuous improvement of Austrian environmental procedures. We also play an active role in strategically important proceedings to ensure that fundamental legal issues are clarified by the courts.
The Aarhus Convention forms the international basis for the right of the public to participate in proceedings and access the courts. In Austria, recognised environmental protection organisations have the right to participate in a variety of approval procedures. ÖKOBÜRO is committed to environmental protection, e.g. in the field of species conservation, hydropower or in the context of environmental impact assessments (EIAs).
Projects that have an impact on the environment usually require official approval. This is to ensure that environmental laws are complied with during project implementation. Environmental impact assessments (EIAs), which are used to evaluate the impact of large-scale projects on the environment, play a key role in this context. However even before a project gets under way, ÖKOBÜRO strives to ensure that the public is involved in the preparation of plans and programmes (e.g. zoning plans, transport route plans, spatial development programmes) at an early stage through strategic environmental assessments (SEAs).
The UNECE Aarhus Convention also grants the public a particular right to information, participation and review when it comes to environmental matters. With a focus on compliance, we monitor whether Austrian environmental protection regulations satisfy the requirements of international and European law.
Where legally possible, we get directly involved in these environmental procedures right from the very start and fight unlawful decisions in court, if necessary, in an attempt to make strides with regard to environmental protection.