Party status

The Tyrolean Environmental Ombudsman has a general duty to represent the interests of nature conservation in the light of the objectives listed in Art. 1 para. 1 of the 2005 Tyrolean Nature Conservation Law (referred to as TNSchG 2005 in the following).

Among other things, the Environmental Ombudsman meets this obligation by participating as a party to administrative proceedings concerning the natural environment. As an environmental advocate, he gives a voice to the environment and represents its interests in all proceedings involving possible negative impacts on nature.

Party status is defined in Art. 8 of the 1991 General Administrative Procedure Act (AVG 1991 in the following):

“Persons who make use of the services performed by an authority or are affected by the activity of such authority are persons involved and, to the extent that they are involved in the matter on the grounds of legal title or interest, they are parties.”

Various laws, and especially the 2005 Tyrolean Nature Conservation Law (TNSchG 2005), confer such party status on the Regional Environmental Ombudsman, which he exercises on behalf of the environment.

As a party to the proceedings, the Environmental Ombudsman has the following rights:

  • Right to access files
  • Right to be heard
  • Right to comment on the evidence taken
  • Right to challenge an expert witness (except where the expert is an “Amtssachverständiger”, i.e. a public servant of the authority involved, in which case an appeal must be lodged)
  • Right to issue and deliver an official notice
  • Right to lodge an ordinary legal remedy
  • Right to lodge an extraordinary legal remedy (application for a re-hearing, restitutio in integrum)
  • Insistence on the authority’s duty to decide

The Environmental Ombudsman can lodge an appeal as follows:

1st level: District Administration           2nd level: Regional Government

1st level: Regional Government           2nd level: Environmental Senate (with limitations)

The Tyrolean Environmental Ombudsman has no right of appeal to Austria’s two supreme courts of public law, the Administrative and the Constitutional Court, except in matters of procedural law (e.g. failure to respect a party’s rights).

In addition to his role as a party in nature conservation proceedings initiated by the authorities or by citizens, the Tyrolean Environmental Ombudsman can also take the initiative himself, e.g. in proposing new protected areas, drawing attention to problems and so on. The Office of the Environmental Ombudsman also serves as a contact for members of the general public in matters concerning nature conservation.

Relevant laws
The Environmental Ombudsman is mostly active as a party in proceedings based on the Nature Conservation Law and the 2000 Environmental Impact Assessment Law (UVP-G2000). Although these are the most frequent, they are not the only laws in which the Environmental Ombudsman has party status:

Tyrolean Nature Conservation Law 2005

Environmental Impact Assessment Law 2000

Waste Management Law 2002 (AWG 2002)

Agricultural Amendment Act 2004

Environmental Management Law (UMG)

Alpine Convention (and its protocols) 

Federal Environmental Liability Law (B-UHG)

 

Additional responsibilities pursuant to (EU) legal provisions

 

Go to www.ris2.bka.gv.at to see all laws in force in Austria.

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