Today, the Cabinet has adopted the proposal made by Federal Minister Scheuer for an Investment Acceleration Act. It is based on a decision by the Coalition Committee. With this, the BMVI is intensifying its measures to accelerate planning and building.
The Federal Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer, said:
We want to accelerate construction – for a strong economy and climate-friendly mobility. On the railways, we want to make it easier to electrify lines and deploy digital technologies, make platforms accessible for disabled people and construct noise barriers. We will accelerate authorisations, shorten court proceedings, make sure that construction go-ahead can be granted more quickly and streamline procedures. This way, we are addressing all the weak points of the process.
Accelerate construction on the railways
Authorisation through a plan approval procedure will no longer be necessary for specific construction activities on the railways. This includes:
o electrification of railway lines,
o provision of digital signalling technology,
o reconstruction for better accessibility, raised or extended platforms,
o construction of noise barriers for noise mitigation.
- Environmental assessment will be made easier in these cases, e.g. by means of carrying out a preliminary examination, due to which some of the subsequent assessments can be dispensed with.
Shorter administrative court procedures
- In the first instance, Higher Administrative Courts are to be responsible, e.g. for regional roads, port projects or wind turbines.
- This will save one instance of court procedures and abbreviate their duration.
- To cope with staff shortages at courts, judges are to be deployed in a more flexible way and competencies at courts are to be pooled.
Immediate enforcement of construction go-ahead
- For infrastructure projects of national importance – such as projects from the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan or the rollout of mobile communications – immediate enforcement will be statutorily mandated.
- This means: construction activities may commence immediately after the authorisation by the competent authority has been granted. In these cases, objections or appeals will not have a suspensory effect. Preliminary legal protection in urgent procedures will be maintained.
Accelerated spatial impact assessment
- In Germany, infrastructure projects are usually approved in a two-stage process:
1. Spatial planning procedure: to assess the (trans)regional impact of a project.
2. Plan approval procedure: to grant construction go-ahead.
- To avoid duplication of work, in the future, it will be possible to dispense with the spatial planning procedure if no conflicts are to be expected in this field. In addition, the procedure will be characterized by more digital features, such as online publications.
During this parliamentary term, several new rules on speeding up the planning process have already entered into force. Now, the Bundestag is entitled by law to approve important environmentally friendly rail and waterway projects, increasing acceptance among the citizens. Procedures regarding the construction of replacement structures will be streamlined, i.e., if bridges are replaced, no new approval procedure will be necessary. In addition, concerning the elimination of level crossings, the pressure on local authorities will be relieved, to make sure that construction work can commence more quickly.