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Environmental risk assessment partly abolished in Austria

On March 2 Austria's Lower House of Parliament, the National Council, adopted a number of key changes to the statutory basis of environmental risk assessments. Under the amendment mandatory environmental risk assessments have been waived for specific projects (construction of or modifications to leisure and recreation parks, sports stadiums, etc.).
In such cases the assessment is to be replaced by a shorter assessment involving a limited participation procedure, on the basis of which the provincial government concerned can then determine whether an environmental risk assessment should be conducted. If so, the environmental risk assessment is carried out merely in a simplified process. Unlike the traditional environmental risk assessment procedure it does not allow citizens' action committees and environmental organisations any opportunity to submit their objections; only the communities concerned and immediate neighbours are entitled to raise objections. An alliance of Austrian environmental associations has instituted appellate proceedings against Austria before the European Commission, claiming infringement of applicable EU law, which among others stipulates the participation of the general public in every environmental procedure.
Sources and information: www.parlament.gv.at/portal/page? (de),
www.umweltdachverband.at/service/presse/uvp (de)