E.ON’s Coal-fired Datteln 4 Power Plant Project Takes Another Hurdle

Friday’s decision by the government of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in favour of initiating proceedings to deviate from the state planning objectives brings E.ON another step closer to continuing construction on its 1100 MW coal-fired power plant in Datteln (Datteln 4).

In September 2009 the Higher Administrative Court of Münster (OVG Münster) declared the zoning plan for the Datteln 4 area void, arguing it contravened state planning objectives, inter alia because the state development plan set out a location for a large-scale power plant in the north east of the town farther away from residential housing than the location chosen. Subsequently, the regional administration in Münster (Bezirksregierung Münster) issued a partial construction stop. In June 2012 OVG Münster revoked the preliminary permit (Vorbescheid) for Datteln 4, which shall replace the three older Datteln 1 to 3 power plant units and E.ON’s Shamrock power plant in Herne.

In July 2013 the Ruhr Valley Area Association (Regionalverband Ruhr – RVR) decided to initiate proceedings with the state planning authority to obtain permission to deviate from the state planning objectives.

The preconditions to decide in favour of deviating from the state planning objectives were met, the cabinet unanimously said. The government therefore informed RVR and the town of Datteln to allow for deviations of the objectives of the state development plan. Pursuant to Section 16 State Development Act NRW deviations are possible in individual cases if the main planning objectives (Grundzüge der Planung) are not affected and the deviation is acceptable from the point of view of regional planning.

RVR and the town of Datteln therefore still have to decide and then have to amend the regional plan and the zoning plan accordingly. RVR had already announced to decide about amending the regional plan on 13 December 2013, while information from the town of Datteln were not yet available, the state of NRW informed, adding that following these decisions the state government would seek to reach the necessary agreement with the Economics Committee responsible for state planning.

Only after an amendment of the regional plan and a decision about a new zoning plan E.ON can apply for a new permit for Datteln 4 pursuant to the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG). This procedure would not only look into immission control matters, but also review compliance of Datteln 4 with building law and other relevant laws, as BImSchG permits have a so-called “concentration effect” (Konzentrationswirkung), meaning that (with few exceptions) other permits or licenses are not required. Hence it remains to be seen if and when E.ON can continue building Datteln 4, in particular as further law suits against the project cannot be ruled out.

Source: State of North Rhine-Westphalia

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