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Public participation procedure: formal participation by citizens

For the construction of high-voltage transmission lines, transmission system operator 50Hertz has to submit legal applications to state and/or federal authorities. A number of laws and regulations apply that also provide the participation options for affected citizens. These include the federal and state administrative proceeding acts, the federal and state spatial planning laws, the Federal Immissions Control Act and various laws on environmental protection.

In its grid development plan, the Federal Network Agency already confirms all measures required to ensure the energy supply, taking into account the results from participation by the authorities and the public. For most line construction projects that are currently being realised by 50Hertz, the Energy Act (EnWG) and the Grid Expansion Acceleration Act (NABEG) also contain important regulations on formal participation. The NABEG from 2011 arranges the public participation for all projects involving more than one federated state.

One example is the South-East DC Passage (Project no. 5 in the Federal Requirement Plan Act). The Power Grid Expansion Act (EnLAG) from 2009 lists a series of line construction projects for which formal public participation is implemented in accordance with state regulations and the general administrative proceeding law. One example for this is the 380-kV Nordring Berlin project. The EnWG contains the requirements for formal public participation for all other procedures and is also consulted in addition to both previously mentioned types of procedure. In all else, the measures of the administrative proceedings act (VwVfG) are to be consulted.

Participation procedure documents Participation procedure documents

Public participation under the NABEG

Due to the greater importance of public participation, the NABEG contains formal and elaborate regulations for all phases of the approval process. The first phase is the federal sectoral planning, involving the search for a corridor for the line to be constructed in accordance with the principles of spatial planning. In the scope of the public project conferences during federal sectoral planning, each citizen has the opportunity to express their opinion on the project plans. After the conference, in which citizens can participate in addition to environmental associations, state authorities and other offices responsible for public policy, the planning documents are made available for public consultation - both at the office of the Federal Network Agency in Berlin and locally, often in the town or city halls. They are also published online at the same time. Citizens can then take a position on the planned corridors in writing within one month. The Federal Network Agency collects all remarks that were received in time and processes them at a public hearing. The decision of the federal sectoral planning is made available for consultation and published online.

The planning approval proceedings follow the federal sectoral planning. Here too, there is a formal participation opportunity following the same design. During the project conference, which is open to all, the application is discussed to determine the scope of survey. The planning documents, which now contain the specific route, are made available for public consultation. Again, citizens, environmental associations and offices responsible for public policy can take a position and present their wishes one last time at a hearing. The planning approval decision is made available for consultation and published online. It is on this basis that affected parties acquire the right to lodge an appeal.

Formal participation for single-state projects

In case of line construction projects at the state level, the search for a route corridor follows the regional planning procedure. This procedure does not allow direct participation by citizens. However, environmental associations, municipalities and other offices responsible for public policy are involved, and these can pass on any citizen input.

In the subsequent planning approval proceedings, the principles of public notice and public disclosure of the documents apply again. At this stage, directly affected citizens can present their objections, which are often discussed one last time during a hearing. The hearing and the public notice are not obligatory under the EnWG, but are common practice nevertheless.


Dr. Danuta Kneipp

Head of Public participation

Dr. Danuta Kneipp
Tel: +49 30 5150-2198
Fax: +49 30 5150-3112
E-Mail: danuta.kneipp@50hertz.com