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Find Lawyers in Germany for Environmental Law

Practice Area Overview

Environmental law in Germany encompasses a broad variety of legal provisions that aim to protect the natural environment as well as human beings and animals. It is a complex field that is quite often governed not only by federal law provision but also by state law and sometimes even municipal law. Moreover, some of the regulations are dynamic and change fast due to the development of the best available technologies. Also, although the protection of the environment and the principle of sustainability are fundamental aims of the German Constitution, more than 80 percent of national environmental law is governed by EU legislation and case-law.

In practice, the regulatory requirements for both the private and the public sector are widespread. Operators of industrial installations have to meet environmental law provisions from the very beginning, starting from the need to find a location that is environmentally sound and to have a permit to operate a factory or a power station. Once an installation has started its operations, environmental authorities conduct inspections both on a regular and an irregular basis in order to check the operator’s compliance with the permit. Changes to an operation are also subject to a license or a notification to the relevant authority. When an operation is closed down, environmental law requires the former operator to clean-up the site.

Environmental law covers a large number of different aspects: emission control, waste management, noise abatement, zoning, water control, soil conservation, hazardous substances control, nature and landscape conservation, and environmental impact assessment are the principal regimes. Climate change law is becoming more and more important. This is especially true for those sectors that are subject to the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Beside the cap and trade scheme, Germany aims to tackle climate change by various instruments, e.g. by provisions for the insulation of buildings as well as for the mandatory use of biofuels. In general, the legal instruments for the achievement of environmental objectives are as numerous as they are diverse.

Counsel advising clients in environmental law issues therefore not only require a broad understanding of the various aspects that are covered. They will also have to keep up with the dynamic development of environmental law legislation and case-law both on a German and an EU level. A thorough understanding of the clients’ business is also a must for a lawyer working in environmental law.

Dr. Stefan Altenschmidt, Partner, and Dr Adina Sitzer, Associate, Luther Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft
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Related Practice Areas: Energy Law, Mining Law
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