Federal Administrative Court rules in favour of Amprion GmbH project

Clifford Chance has been advising on the structuring of this project over a period of several years and was yesterday successful in seeing off two actions on behalf of the grid operator Amprion which had been brought against the official decision to approve the project.

The actions had been submitted by the local authorities of Brachbach and Mudersbach in the Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate against the planning approval issued by the state authorities for the renewal of local sections of the 380 kV maximum voltage overhead line running from Kruckel (Dortmund) to Dauersberg (Rhineland-Palatinate).

The planned line forms part of project no. 19 referred to in the requirement plan contained in the German Power Grid Extension Act (EnLAG) (“Renewal of maximum voltage line Kruckel – Dauersberg, nominal voltage: 380 kV”). The line runs for a total distance of around 113 km, with around 13 km (border between the Federal States of Rhineland-Palatinate and / North Rhine-Westphalia up to the Dauersberg substation) and 2.7 km (from Mudersbach to the aforementioned border) crossing Rhineland-Palatinate. As with many similar projects, it is hoped that the new lines can be built on the existing routes for 110 and 220 kV lines as far as possible, with these then being dismantled during the course of the work. The plan is for the circuits for the 110 kV lines to be located on the new 380 kV masts.

Both of the actions were dismissed. The Federal Administrative Court held that, in challenging a planning approval, local authorities are limited to objecting to provisions which are in place to protect them. They are therefore only in a position to demand a due and proper consideration of their legal right to local autonomy and their property as protected by civil law. The Federal Administrative Court confirmed that none of these rights had been infringed by the panning approval for the new line. The court also had no objections to the other aspects which formed the basis for the actions, such as the consideration of alternative proposals, the definition of the various sections and the treatment of construction and environmental issues. The ruling will therefore be a benchmark for the numerous actions which are likely to be brought against similar projects, particularly those being implemented under the Power Grid Extension Act and the Grid Extension Acceleration Act (NABEG).

The unique situation exists for projects implemented under the Power Grid Extension Act that the Federal Administrative Court is the court of both first and last instance. No further proceedings may be brought in this matter. The German government’s aim is to ensure that projects of this type are fast-tracked as urgent infrastructure projects, including in the case of any judicial proceedings.

The Clifford Chance team was led by partner Dr. Mathias Elspass (picture) and comprised associate Mira Heinrich, senior associate Dr. Lukas Ernst and associate Dr. Philipp Büsch.

Involved fees earner: Mathias Elspass – Clifford Chance; Lukas Ernst – Clifford Chance; Philipp Büsch – Clifford Chance; Mira Heinrich – Clifford Chance;

Law Firms: Clifford Chance;

Clients: Amprion GmbH;

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