Environmental law & energy law

Experienced legal advice for planners and operating companies

Environmental and energy law requirements have an ever-increasing influence over business decisions and the achievement of the desired economic results. As such, knowledge and successful handling of these requirements are a prerequisite for successful entrepreneurial activity in the twenty-first century.
We offer comprehensive advice for investors, project developers, planners, project financiers and regulatory authorities on the implementation of procedural and substantive requirements for environmental protection. This includes the determination of approval requirements, the preparation and oversight of approval procedures in close contact with authorities and technical consultants, and the assertion of your interests in negotiations with authorities and affected parties. If necessary, we defend environmental permits in court or challenge such permits on your behalf.
We support you from conception to completion
We provide thorough, in-depth advice to energy and industrial companies who generate electricity to meet their needs and/or for feeding into the public grid. This advice ranges from the design and negotiation of contracts for primary energy supply (aimed at optimally exploiting the opportunities of combined heat and power generation and renewable energy) to advice and representation in all emissions trading matters.
A particular area of focus is the provision of comprehensive legal support in designing the construction of new power plants and modernising existing ones, including all related permits.
In addition, we support you in carrying out public relations work (a particularly important consideration for projects in the field of power generation) and in the drafting of neighbourhood and settlement agreements. If necessary, we defend permits for power generation plants and other projects in appeals and legal proceedings with the aim of obtaining a final permit at the earliest opportunity.

Emissions & immissions

The construction and operation of power plants, industrial plants and other commercial facilities is largely defined by immission control law. This confronts planners and operators with constantly changing requirements arising from detailed specifications at European and national level.
Experience shows that the early identification of all relevant legal parameters is an indispensable prerequisite for the effective acceleration of approval procedures and for defending against unreasonable requirements by immission control authorities. By presenting a carefully substantiated and evidenced legal position, disagreements with authorities can often be resolved before they begin.
In the case of existing plants, ongoing advice regarding changing legal requirements and opportunities for extending the operating life are the main focus. We do pursue the path of legal dispute – for example in the case of prohibition or decommissioning orders – but only as an ultima ratio. If we take this step, however, we pursue it with the utmost rigour.
If so required, technical consultants and approval planners are available to assist us within the scope of our advisory services. We support project developers and plant operators in the preparation and implementation of approval procedures and aim to obtain legally compliant permits in a timely manner.

Soil protection & contaminated sites

Previous industrial and commercial use often has an impact on the quality of company land. Contamination of the soil or groundwater, for example, can often make it difficult to modify the use of former industrial and commercial properties. The owner of the property, in particular, is responsible for its remediation, which is why it is of crucial importance for property owners and project sponsors to be able to judge with certainty the economic and legal risks involved in the acquisition and development of previously used sites.
Today, there is hardly a single land transaction and or inner-city construction project that can be undertaken and successfully implemented without careful analysis and regulation of the contaminated site risk. The extension of the remediation obligation falling upon former property owners and controlling companies places new demands on the drafting of contracts for the sale of contaminated properties and the drafting of company purchase agreements.
In such cases, we not only support our clients with long-standing experience in the drafting of tailored contracts but advise them regarding official investigation and remediation orders and support them in the conclusion and implementation of remediation agreements and the management of contaminated sites. As we do so, we often work in close cooperation with subject matter experts who are well known to the firm.
We also have a deep understanding of the issues regarding indemnification against liability for contaminated sites, which continue to have relevance in the new German federal states. Where a client intends to recommission an abandoned site, we deploy our expertise in the assessment of soil contamination, the allocation of liability risks according to individual interests and the insurance of residual risks.

Environmental information

The interest in obtaining environmental information held by the public sector is an increasingly important one in the context of business and legal transactions. Such information does not just concern data on the state of certain environmental elements, such as air or soil – rather, it also consists of data relating to activities or measures that may have an impact on environmental elements, including data on the operation of environmentally relevant installations, construction or infrastructure projects.
The environmental information provisions of the Federal Government and the Federal States grant individuals, interest groups and companies the right to access this environmental information for free. In connection with freedom of information, the conflict of interests between the interest in obtaining information and the protection of business and trade secrets is often the subject of contentious disputes, usually involving the authority responsible for storing the information in question.
We advise and represent our clients in all questions arising in connection with freedom of information under environmental law. For commercial clients, we use claims to information, among other things, to ascertain important facts (e.g. to defend against third-party claims for remediation or compensation of costs in the event of soil contamination). Similarly, we represent our clients against authorities and third parties requesting information for the purpose of protecting trade and business secrets.

Waste & hazardous goods

Scarcely any other area of environmental law is subject to the same volume of changes as waste and hazardous goods law. In waste law, legislators are tightening environmental protection requirements and placing increasing product responsibility on manufacturers (e.g. for end-of-life vehicles, electrical appliances and packaging). The current European legal framework requires the observance of numerous regulations by industry in general and by the waste management industry in particular at ever shorter intervals.
This goes hand-in-hand with a framework of duty allocation according to which producers and owners of waste remain responsible until the disposal is duly completed, even and especially in the case of waste disposal orders placed with third parties. Hazardous goods legislation is traditionally governed by uniform international legal regimes (e.g. ADR, RID), which also tend to be amended at very short intervals.
We have broad expertise in these areas. This includes the approval of waste disposal facilities in accordance with immission, mining or waste law regulations, defence against regulatory orders, legal support in the design of waste-relevant production processes, the closure and aftercare of landfills, and representation in criminal or fine proceedings under waste law.
It goes without saying that we work in close cooperation with experts and environmental consultants. We regularly support our clients’ efforts to ensure legally compliant operation by providing company-specific in-house training.

Environmental liability

Economic life in Germany is regulated by an almost overwhelming abundance of legal regulations. Nowhere does this apply more than in environmental law.
Violations of environmental regulations can result in individuals; companies and their management being exposed to considerable claims for damages with regard to environmental damage or damage caused to others by plant-related environmental impacts. They can also have personally damaging consequences for the individual concerned under criminal or administrative law.
We support our clients with expertise and experience when it comes to defending these claims or countering allegations of personal liability. We also advise our clients on preventive measures in the area of environmental liability, including by supporting them in the establishment of effective environmental compliance procedures.

Mining & raw materials

We are pleased to offer support for the extraction of raw materials, including sand, gravel, coal and more. As part of this process, we support the planning process for managing the extraction of raw materials and analyze the legal requirements of spatial planning and urban land-use planning on your behalf.
Our range of advisory services also includes support for the preparation and implementation of regional planning procedures and informal state planning coordination procedures, as well as the representation of your interests in planning procedures at state, regional and local level.
We clarify approval requirements and support you through every step of the approval procedure – right up until your project is realized. Our advice covers both mining law and other legal areas relevant to the securing and extraction of raw materials, e.g. water protection and nature conservation law.

Nature and water protection

If not taken into account at an early stage (and with due care) in the conception and implementation of plant planning, the requirements of European and national-level water conservation can often hinder the planning of industrial or infrastructure projects. This applies, for example, in regard to the requirements of species protection law and regulations protecting fauna, flora and habitat (FFH) areas and European bird sanctuaries.
We advise public and private project sponsors and licensing authorities on the implementation of nature conservation requirements, the execution of participatory processes and the proper application of nature conservation instruments, with the aim of achieving the highest possible degree of legal security.
We also support you in the preparation and execution of procedures for permits, approval, planning permission and planning approval under water law and defend water law approval decisions in legal actions and summary proceedings before administrative courts. Our experience ranges from industrial wastewater discharge and groundwater use to the construction and operation of sewage treatment plants, the implementation of barrages and fish ladders and the construction of hydropower plants. We are also happy to provide support for the use of ports and waters for industrial and infrastructural purposes.

Energy

We advise on anything and everything to do with the generation of electrical or useful energy. We have extensive experience in the planning, construction and operation of plants based on both renewable and conventional energies.
In the field of renewable energies, we advise project developers, plant manufacturers and operating companies on offshore and onshore wind energy, photovoltaics, biomass and hydropower. We help project developers and plant operators make optimal use of the legal and tax regulations outlined under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and of current market conditions.
We support you through all steps in the implementation of a project, from the initial project idea to its successful realisation and beyond. Our services range from advice on EEG-related issues (in particular, remuneration and grid access) and planning law issues (zoning, development planning, project-related development planning) to support with approval procedures, contaminated sites and public procurement procedures.
We also draft and negotiate all types of civil, energy and public law contracts, in particular:
  • Urban development contracts
  • Land and building-related usage agreements and agreements relating to easements and public dues
  • Commercial tax splitting agreements in favour of local communities
  • Project takeover agreements
  • Financing agreements
  • Plant construction contracts
  • General contractor/EPC contracts
  • Contracts with specialist planners
  • Purchase contracts for plants or plant components
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Operating agreements
  • Agreements on shared transformer substations
  • Grid connection contracts
  • Feed-in tariff agreements
  • Direct marketing contracts
  • Market premium model contracts
We support you during the construction phase and enforce warranty rights and payment claims based on performance and availability guarantees. If so required, we can draft and negotiate contracts for the purchase and sale of offshore and onshore wind farms and solar parks as asset or share deals, including the compilation and review of due diligence documents. Where a project calls for it, we can also provide advice on the biomass feedstocks and biofuels permitted under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), another important advisory field.
Where applicable, we assist clients with our project financing know-how, helping them achieve the greatest possible return on their investment.
We also offer a comprehensive range of services in the field of conventional energies – from planning law, the approval procedure and advice on public procurement law to the drafting and negotiation of plant construction contracts and the drafting of purchase contracts for the primary raw material. We are just as comfortable dealing with coal, gas, steam and combined heat and power plants as with thermal waste treatment plants. For each project, we examine whether and to what extent the investment can be subsidised. If funding seems possible, the project is designed in such a way that all funding opportunities can be optimally exploited. It goes without saying that any consequences of emissions trading are also taken into account.
In addition to energy contracting, the drafting and negotiation of contracts for the supply of useful energy (heat, steam, cooling) and electricity is a further focus of our activity.
In relation to energy grids, we advise local authorities and energy supply companies on road usage agreements and grid takeovers. We handle all issues relating to grid access and grid usage fees on behalf of energy providers, project developers, companies and municipalities. Other important areas of activity include surcharges and related exemptions under the EEG (German Renewable Energy Sources Act) and the KWK (Combined Heat and Power Act), nationwide load balancing and all questions relating to electricity and energy taxation, including tax refunds and exemptions.
Finally, we also specialize in the economic optimization of energy supply for companies through advantageous plant configuration and carefully planned plant and energy supply concepts, including CO2 management. We manage the provision of all legal advice accompanying the construction works for all fields of energy.