Salzburg line: APG issues another legal statement
Vienna, August 7, 2020 – Austrian Power Grid and Salzburg Netz GmbH have submitted another statement concerning the proceedings of appeal regarding the Salzburg line to the Supreme Administrative Court. This statement reiterates why APG‘s network development plan (NDP) is not bound to a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) despite a recent decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding a wind-park in Belgium.

“The reason is that the NDP – in contrast to the legal provisions in Belgium – does not define a legal framework for the subsequent proceedings relating to the permission of an EIA. In case of the Salzburg line the NDP was not applied in the EIA permission procedure and was thus not relevant for the legally binding EIA permission”, says APG lawyer Christian Onz. APG’s CFO Thomas Karall considers this statement as “another confirmation of APG’s unaltered legal position. In addition, the provincial government of Salzburg and the Federal Administrative Court have already decided in the already finished and legally binding permission procedure that the NDP is not subject to a compulsory SEA.” In the opinion of APG and Salzburger Netz GmbH there is no issue that needs to be examined in view of EU law. The jurisdiction regarding the 380-kV Salzburg line is now vested in the Austrian Supreme Administrative Court.

The current legal situation in detail – additional information due to current developments:

All motions to resume legal proceedings have failed to date. Also the recent application for revision subsequent to the new ECJ decision was immediately dismissed by the Federal Administrative Court. 

The Salzburg line is the most important electricity infrastructure project in Austria. Since March 2019 a final and legally binding construction permission is available. Therefore construction works have been in full swing since October 2019 in view of facilitating the energy transition and securing the electricity supply for Austria and the province of Salzburg in particular.

Currently, seven proceedings of appeal (contestations of the positive EIA decision) regarding the Salzburg line are pending at the Supreme Administrative Court. However, neither the Supreme Administrative Court nor the Federal Administrative Court have granted the appeals a suspensory effect.

The Austrian NDP is based on the projected development of energy consumption and generation. It defines the necessary grid expansion and (re)construction projects and has to be approved by E-Control Austria (ECA). The NDP is not the basis for nor does it contain any provisions regarding the EIA procedures for the individual projects. Therefore, according to APG‘s legal opinion, the network development plan must not be subjected to a compulsory SEA.

APG’s legal position was again emphasized by the company’s statement submitted today to the Supreme Administrative Court: both the provincial government of Salzburg (as EIA authority) and the Austrian Federal Administrative Court have already come to the conclusion that the network development plan is not subject to a compulsory SEA procedure. Also the relating question of law has been deemed as not of “fundamental importance” by the Federal Administrative Court. The final adjudication is now vested in the Supreme Administrative Court.

Salzburg line overview

A total of about 890 million Euros will be invested in the Salzburg line project, which also means that about 2,250 jobs are being secured in the province of Salzburg alone. The central issue in the planning of the project was how to respect the needs of people and nature as best as possible. After the completion of the Salzburg line there will be 229 pylons less in Salzburg due to double-circuit configurations and line optimization as well as dismantlement of old lines. The length of the dismantled lines will total 193 km (678 pylons). The total length of the new Salzburg line will be 128 km and comprise 449 pylons.