JUVE Law Firm of the year

Environmental and Planning Law

ECJ gives environmental associations further boost

Housing, energy and nature conservation are probably the three main areas currently shaping environmental and planning law. The shortage of housing space in cities has reached an entirely new dimension with the heavy influx of refugees, and calls for both strategic and planning law advice. The turnaround in energy policy raises fundamental questions, and some projects already planned are coming up against public opposition. In Bavaria, a large section of the “Suedlink” power line, which will guide wind energy from the coast to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, will be laid underground.

Opposition to large infrastructure projects also traditionally comes from environmental and nature conservation associations. These were buoyed up by the much-observed ECJ decision in October 2015 that the German federal government must make improvements with regard to the right of associations to take legal action, in terms of environmental impact assessments.

Compliance opens up new fields of advice for firms

Grid expansion in the course of the turnaround in energy policy is another rich source of work for firms. Linklaters is still active for Tennet; in today’s largest project, “Suedlink”, the ruling that underground cables should be given priority called for the entire project to be redesigned. But grid operators on the whole, including Amprion and 50Hertz, are turning to a number of firms for advice on planning new lines, rather than a single advisor. Gleiss Lutz, for example, worked for Amprion for the first time in this important field.

Many companies’ awareness of the issue of environmental compliance is increasing. And this, too, is leading to a rise in demand for legal advice. Firms like Avocado or Baumeister are advising a whole host of Mittelstand companies in connection with IED inspections, which have seen particularly strong growth in Hessen and Nordrhein-Westfalen, and are thus far more active in strategic issues than they used to be.

Environmental lawyers more active in strategic issues

Firms with a more international setup and a corresponding client base are noting something similar: there is growing demand for environmental law advice in the auto sector, not least since the VW emissions scandal. While the Wolfsburg-based VW counts on Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells carved out a position in this field with a number of other auto manufacturers.

Large-firm spinoffs, including Held Jaguttis and Kruhl von Strenge, are not only challenging their former parent firms by offering advice on public law at lower rates: they also provide support in transactions with their environmental law expertise. This area used to be the domain of full-service firms.

 


 

This chapter covers firms that are active in environmental and planning law as well as public planning and construction, which is also largely made up of environmental aspects in addition to approval issues. Interfaces arise with ?public procurement and ?construction. Environmental law also plays a significant role in the operation of power plants and real estate, e.g. in terms of nature conservation, resource efficiency and emissions trading (interface with ?energy law) and the sale of plants (interface with ?M&A).


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