In a hearing before the Environment Committee of the German Parliament (Bundestag) experts discussed a bill amending the Act on Legal Remedies in Environmental Matters (Umwelt-Rechtsbehelfegesetz – UmwRG; ref. no. 17/10957). The bill was triggered by a ruling of Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of May 2011 in favour of the environmental organisation BUND (German section of Friends of the Earth) regarding their legal action against a coal-fired power plant project by Trianel GmbH.
The bill shall amend UmwRG in such a way as to comply with the CJEU ruling, which strengthened the rights of environmental protection organisations before German courts, calling the currently applicable UmwRG to restrictive in certain aspects. Besides, the bill contains further environmental law related provisions that were criticised by some experts. In the hearing experts discussed in particular compliance of Section 4a UmwRG as proposed by the bill with European law controversially. Section 4a UmwRG sets out under what conditions the Law on Administrative Court Proceedings (VwGO) shall apply. While for example the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW) said the new Section 4a UmwRG was needed to reign in the extended rights of environmental organisations to bring law suits, BUND said there was an imbalance in the bill with regard to those protecting and those using the environment.