Procedures for environmental protection
The aim of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) is to align major projects – e.g. motorways, power stations or ski resorts – as closely as possible with environmental concerns. For this purpose, EIA authorities can stipulate plan amendments and compensatory measures, and may also prohibit the implementation of projects in rare cases. Concerned parties, citizens’ initiatives and recognised environmental protection organisations may take part in EIA procedures so as to protect their own interests as well as those of the environment.
To date, the Federal Act on Environmental Impact Assessment is the law that can most effectively reduce the serious environmental impacts of large-scale projects. It grants parties directly affected by major projects, citizens’ initiatives and environmental protection organisations party status, which allows them to safeguard their own interests and the interests of the environment. In concrete terms, this means that they have access to project information, can participate in EIA approval procedures and thus highlight environmental threats and make suggestions for improvements. Public participation promotes public acceptance of the implementation of such projects, contributes to the quality assurance of projects and procedures, and establishes legal certainty and planning security in diverse and complex matters in a relatively short amount of time.
ÖKOBÜRO has been concerned with environmental impact assessment since 1993. We draw on these decades of experience to bring about improvements in the Federal Act on Environmental Impact Assessment and prevent envisaged deteriorations from becoming a reality. We demonstrate existing weak points in the law and try to resolve them. To do this, we communicate with the relevant stakeholders and interest groups, publish opinions on planned amendments to the Federal Act on Environmental Impact Assessment and organise events such as workshops or discussions.
ÖKOBÜRO also works on EIAs in the context of its role as a member of the European environmental law network Justice and Environment (J&E). We compare the EIA systems adopted in different European countries and weigh in on European legislation on EIA, for example by issuing opinions or lodging complaints.
ÖKOBÜRO also participates in EIA procedures itself. As a recognised Austrian environmental protection organisation, we are granted party status and use this to our advantage in proceedings that are of strategic importance for the environment.