Germany to Force Landowners to Accept New Renewables Infrastructure

(Bloomberg) -- German landowners will no longer be able to refuse access if grid operators need to connect renewable infrastructure on their property.

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The measure — which has sparked criticism from farmers — is part of a series of new regulations agreed on by federal and state leaders on Tuesday. The aim is to speed up the expansion and connection of clean energy, which has stalled because of lengthy approval periods and local opposition.

Currently, grid operators often have to go to court to get access to properties if they want to plan, let alone build a power or district heating connection line, according to the government document accompanying the new regulations. The German Farmers Association has warned that forcing landowners to tolerate installations would be “constitutionally questionable.”

Europe’s largest economy is trying to wean itself off fossil fuels after it already phased out nuclear power earlier this year, and requires a massive build out of its grid to get solar and wind energy to the regions that need it. By 2030, the government wants 80% of German electricity to be from renewable sources, up from 48% last year.

While property owners affected by the new rules — which still have to be written into law — should get compensation, “it must be ensured that projects are not delayed by lengthy negotiations on the amount,” the document said.

“The aim is to clear the bureaucratic jungle in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said. He also promised to reduce other planning and legal obligations which particularly burden small and medium enterprises.

The agreement foresees the option of higher tolerance levels for noise and smells around industry sites and power plants near new residential areas. It also pledges speedier environmental impact assessments, shortcuts for court proceedings, and easier approvals for heavy-load transports.

The German Renewable Energy Federation welcomed the agreement as an “important signal for the industry” and urged a speedy implementation.

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