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30 March 2018
press release

Austria: Schoenherr leads Vienna Airport to success in third runway proceedings: Federal Administrative Court gives green light

Schoenherr has secured a significant victory for the Vienna International Airport ("VIE") and the province of Lower Austria in the proceedings for the third runway at the airport.

Together with his team, Schoenherr partner Christian Schmelz succeeded in persuading the Federal Administrative Court to confirm the environmental impact assessment ("EIA") authorisation, which is thus legally binding.

Important milestone

"The decision of the Federal Administrative Court is of immense importance not only for Vienna Airport, but for the entire eastern region of Austria and for the country as a business hub," stated Schoenherr environmental law expert and partner Christian Schmelz. "At the same time, the decision of the Federal Administrative Court is a reassuring proof that, despite several detours, the judicial institutions in Austria work," concluded Schmelz.

The permit application for the construction of the third runway at VIE was rejected at the beginning of 2017 by the Federal Administrative Court on the grounds of climate protection and land use. As a result, Schoenherr lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court which overturned in June 2017 the decision of the Federal Administrative Court. The Federal Administrative Court was then bound by the legal opinion of the Constitutional Court.

In the current decision, the Federal Administrative Court is assigning in part tougher conditions than the first instance EIA authorisation of the Lower Austrian government did (in particular concerning noise protection), and is ascribing in part additional requirements (regarding measures to further reduce CO2 emissions at the airport up to CO2 neutrality). The factual and legal grounds of these additional requirements will now be examined.

Supreme Court Proceedings are guaranteed

Already before the decision had even been handed down, some of the opponents of the project announced their intention to contest the approval of the third runway at the Constitutional Court and the High Administrative Court. A renewed referral to the supreme courts is therefore expected, which will further delay the implementation of this infrastructure project.

The team supporting Christian Schmelz has been advising and representing VIE and the province of Lower Austria in these proceedings regarding the third runway as well as in other cases. Schoenherr was supported by a team of technical and legal experts, both local and international.

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