Planning and investing more swiftly

Investment Acceleration Act (Investitionsbeschleunigungsgesetz) Planning and investing more swiftly

Major infrastructure projects are to be realised more rapidly. That calls for swifter planning and approval procedures, as well as faster investment. To set the wheels in motion, the German government has launched new legislation.

The Investment Acceleration Act translates into legislation the measures adopted by the Coalition Committee on 8 March 2020 to speed up regional planning, approval and administrative court procedures in the transport sector. This will provide economic stimulus and make Germany more attractive as a site for business.

Why do we need an Investment Acceleration Act?

In this legislative period, the German government has already adopted a whole series of urgently needed measures to accelerate planning in the infrastructure sector, putting in place important conditions so that large-scale transport projects can be realised more swiftly.

However, to ensure that the funds available for investment can be used more rapidly, additional measures are needed – especially with respect to regional planning, track electrification and administrative court proceedings.

What specific measures are planned?

  • In the field of regional planning

Regional planning procedure (including environmental impact assessments) will only be conducted in future if it is deemed expedient by the project agency or if the regional planning authority expects a project to trigger significant conflicts for the region. In addition to this, procedures are to be digitalised to a greater degree.

  • In the field of track electrification

The electrification of stretches of railway track and smaller-scale construction measures will be exempted from development consent and planning authorisation proceedings – unless an environmental impact assessment is mandatory.

The requirement that an environmental impact assessment be conducted is also to be relaxed. When railway track is digitalised, for instance, and level crossings renewed, an environmental impact assessment will no longer be mandatory; in the case of track electrification a preliminary assessment will be conducted.  

  • In the field of administrative court procedures

The initial responsibility for cases relating to certain infrastructure projects is to be transferred from the administrative court to the higher administrative court or even the administrative court of justice.

The cases include in particular planning approval processes for country roads, projects regulated by the provisions of the Federal Mining Act, hydro power plants and ports. The change also covers disputes relating to approval for wind power plants.

This will shorten the path through the administrative court system and reduce the overall length of administrative court procedures.

Where do we go from here?

Eight years after the new legislation comes into effect, the provisions relating to approval procedures are to be reviewed. The other regulations relating to regional planning procedures are to be evaluated after five years.

The evaluation is to determine whether or to what extent the intended impact has been achieved.