The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin - Brandenburg cleared yesterday the last remaining legal obstacle to the completion of the Nordstream 2 Gas Pipeline. The sticking point concerned an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a 500-km portion (called EUGAL) of the 1200-km long pipeline.
Specifically a complaint from a private landowner maintained that the EIA did not address the effects on the environment of greenhouse gases that would presumably increase with the operation of the gas pipeline. To this end the landowner claimed the changes in the climate directly and indirectly associated with the project due to greenhouse gas emissions were not adequately determined, described and evaluated by the EIA and that there is no need for the approved project in the energy sector.
There are actually numerous reports in Germany which emphasize a drop in the demand for natural gas with more and more renewable sources of energy coming on line, especially wind and solar power.
The 11th Senate of the Higher Administrative Court dismissed the lawsuit, stating the EIA report contained the minimum information required and that the pipeline was “state of the art and safe.”
The court said that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of the steel pipes and with the production and consumption of the transported gas are not the environmental impacts of the EUGAL project, which are included in the EIA obligation.
Moreover the court said it only has limited abilities to check the need assessment of the pipeline and that the complaint did not “reveal any legal deficiencies in the energy assessment of the project.”
Consonant with the logic of the last statement, the court said that construction can continue immediately and quashed any consideration of an appeal. Nordstream 2 is expected to begin operations in 2021. However, the finalization is currently halted due to US interference.