Environmental Law

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Specialists in environmental law

When preparing for and carrying out complex approval and planning procedures, as well as during ongoing operation of industrial plants, power lines, mines, etc., companies are confronted with a large number of issues concerning environmental law.

The CMS environmental law specialists help companies to recognise and comply with environmental law requirements, as well as avoiding mistakes. They have the necessary expertise and commercial understanding, backed by many years of working with companies, public bodies and the courts. They are also accustomed to liaising with experts from other specialist areas, such as environmental experts, engineers and planners, project developers and local authorities.

Our environmental law advice includes the following areas:

  • Licensing and planning permission procedures
  • Environmental law advice and compliance, product-related environmental law
  • Contaminated sites
  • Project development
  • Transactions and restructurings (including environmental due diligence)
  • Dispute resolution
  • Advice around the political process

The environmental law issues dealt with include in particular:

  • Emission control legislation
  • Protection of nature and wildlife
  • Water law
  • Waste disposal law
  • Soil protection law
  • EIAs and SEAs
  • Regional development and planning law
  • Law on chemicals
  • Specific procedures under environmental law and procedural law
  • Environmental Information

Licensing and planning permission procedures

Our environmental law advice focuses on the support and management of complex licensing and planning permission procedures, as well as regional development and planning processes, including environmental impact assessments. In particular, the strict requirements under laws concerning the protection of nature and wildlife, water law and emission control legislation impose numerous constraints on projects with environmental impact.

Detailed preparation ahead of procedures that covers the planning and application documents and also public participation aspects can help to avoid procedural mistakes and conflicts, while also reducing the risk of legal challenges by environmental groups. Such challenges have become significantly more common in recent years. Careful groundwork accelerates the process and increases investment security. If necessary, we also defend projects against third party challenges and lawsuits by environmental groups.

Environmental law and compliance, product-related environmental law

EU legislators have been steadily tightening the regulations on environmental protection for many years. Environmental law compliance is thus an increasingly important aspect of corporate governance. This includes avoiding violations of the law, exceeding thresholds, leaks of hazardous materials and incidents, ensuring compliance with special registration and labelling obligations for many substances, as well as applying all relevant environmental regulations to a company’s specific processes and structures.

Our experts check whether and under what circumstances the authorities are likely to impose environmental restrictions and how they can be avoided. We establish in advance whether permits or other official approvals can be transferred from one company to another, when they must be re-applied for and what contractual options exist for agreements with the authorities or third parties.

Contaminated sites

Our advice also covers soil and water protection law, including contaminated sites. With German and European legislation having significantly extended the participation and legal rights of neighbours, municipalities and environmental groups over the past few years, violations of soil and water protection regulations are now more likely to be detected and severely punished.

We defend companies against official directives and support them in the context of remediation agreements and during negotiations with public bodies, environmental groups and other third parties.

Project development and Transactions

During project development, conflicts around use need to be resolved, a range of different interests must be taken into consideration and contamination risks have to be avoided or addressed. We advise our clients during structuring and implementation of projects with potential environmental impact, identify risks and possible solutions at an early stage and provide assistance for communication with public bodies and third parties. Our advice is provided in close conjunction with our specialists in real estate law, procurement law, public construction and planning law.

For transactions and restructurings, we carry out environmental due diligence (in particular concerning permits and contaminated sites), assess the transferability of permits and, if applicable, draw up the relevant contracts together with our M&A specialists.

Conflicts

If necessary, we also represent you in court and during arbitration proceedings in case of conflicts and also during mediation, thereby safeguarding what has already been achieved.

Public relations and public participation

Companies find themselves under increasing public scrutiny. A lack of acceptance from municipal bodies, in political circles and among affected communities often represents a major obstacle to successful business activity and, in particular, to major projects. In politically sensitive cases, we support the PR work of the project sponsor or the public sector. During this process, our excellent contacts to ministries and public agencies are particularly valuable. We provide legal opinions on proposed laws and support our clients in legislative and norm-setting proceedings.


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24/06/2022
Reg­u­la­tion on for­eign sub­sidies is head­ing for the fin­ish line - European...
Since 5 May 2022, EU tri­logue ne­go­ti­ations have been un­der­way on the first Reg­u­la­tion to lim­it the ef­fect of sub­sidies from third coun­tries to com­pan­ies act­ive in the EU. That an agree­ment will be reached...
08/04/2022
The Pro­posed Dir­ect­ive on Cor­por­ate Sus­tain­ab­il­ity Due Di­li­gence – a step...
The Pro­posed Dir­ect­ive on Cor­por­ate Sus­tain­ab­il­ity Due Di­li­gence (the “CSDD Pro­pos­al”), pub­lished on 23 Feb­ru­ary 2022, aims to im­pose ob­lig­a­tions on com­pan­ies, their sub­si­di­ar­ies and their value chains...
07/04/2022
The European Green Deal in ac­tion: sig­ni­fic­ant new cir­cu­lar eco­nomy meas­ures...
On 30 March 2022, the European Com­mis­sion (“EC”) presen­ted a pack­age of meas­ures in­ten­ded to make sus­tain­able products the norm in the EU, fa­cil­it­ate cir­cu­lar busi­ness mod­els and em­power con­sumers...
01/03/2022
Pro­posed man­dat­ory cor­por­ate sus­tain­ab­il­ity due di­li­gence re­quire­ments...
On 23 Feb­ru­ary 2022, the European Com­mis­sion ad­op­ted a long-awaited pro­pos­al for a Dir­ect­ive on cor­por­ate sus­tain­ab­il­ity due di­li­gence for widely-defined spe­cified “com­pan­ies”. The pro­pos­als are wide...
17/02/2022
Sig­ni­fic­ant Con­sulta­tion on pro­posed re­vi­sions to REACH
Un­til 15 April 2022, the European Com­mis­sion (“EC”) is con­sult­ing on pro­posed re­vi­sions of REACH, (Reg­u­la­tion (EC) No 1907/2006 as amended), the corner­stone of EU chem­ic­als reg­u­la­tion. REACH aims...
27/10/2021
Cli­mate Risk re­port
At COP26 in­sti­tu­tion after in­sti­tu­tion came for­ward to make stronger com­mit­ments to what is now broadly seen in most coun­tries as a com­mon goal: to re­duce glob­al car­bon di­ox­ide emis­sions. In par­tic­u­lar, the private sec­tor stepped up to the plate. For ex­ample, the Glas­gow Fin­an­cial Al­li­ance for Net Zero pos­ited a po­ten­tial USD 130tn of private cap­it­al to ac­cel­er­ate the green trans­ition. COP26 also es­cal­ated the role of cli­mate dis­clos­ures in achiev­ing net zero. To achieve glob­al com­par­ab­il­ity, the In­ter­na­tion­alSus­tain­ab­il­ity Stand­ards Board (ISSB) is to de­liv­er a glob­al baseline that gives in­vestors in­form­a­tion about the cli­mate and sus­tain­ab­il­ity risks in re­la­tion to com­pan­ies they (may) in­vest in. Fur­ther, the UK in­tro­duced re­quire­ments for all lis­ted com­pan­ies to pro­duce net-zero trans­ition plans by 2023. These are seen as drivers for achiev­ing cli­mate-pos­it­ive in­vest­ing.In­ter­na­tion­al com­mer­cial law­yers have a cru­cial role to play in nav­ig­at­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the frame­works that emerge from COP26. Be­ing guard­i­ans of the rule of law and fa­cil­it­at­ors of busi­ness and trade, law­yers will be at the centre of dis­cus­sions on what our cli­ents are re­quired to do, and also on what they should do in light of wider so­ci­et­al and repu­ta­tion­al con­sid­er­a­tions. It is in our cli­ents’ in­terests that we guide them to­ward out­comes in line with wider so­ci­et­al am­bi­tions. To do oth­er­wise would, among oth­er things, risk pla­cing them at a com­pet­it­ive dis­ad­vant­age as the world pivots to­ward a clear­er cli­mate mit­ig­a­tion agenda. Cli­mate Risk is a broad term and cov­ers a mul­ti­tude of con­cepts. This re­port fo­cuses on three leg­al risks. First, of fin­an­cial in­sti­tu­tions hold­ing cor­por­ates to ac­count over per­ceived cli­mate risks. Second, the risk to cor­por­ates on what they do and say about the im­pact on their busi­ness from (or from their busi­ness on) cli­mate change. Fi­nally, risk of lit­ig­a­tion against cor­por­ates re­lat­ing to cli­mate change.As law­yers, what we see is broadly a great de­sire among our cli­ents to be part of the solu­tion on cli­mate change. Al­most all ma­jor cor­por­ate cli­ents that we speak to wish to take pos­it­ive steps that are in line with the de­sire for cli­mate ac­tion, and also to cap­it­al­ise on the op­por­tun­it­ies presen­ted as we trans­ition to a net zero eco­nomy. We find that, among the in­vest­ment com­munity, vast cap­it­al is ready and avail­able to be de­ployed on in­fra­struc­ture and oth­er pro­jects that will push the agenda for­ward. The ques­tion is wheth­er there is suf­fi­cient clar­ity on the agenda, the rules and the risks in­volved.As this re­port shows, a key driver of Cli­mate Risk for cor­por­ates re­volves around in­form­a­tion. Both quan­ti­fi­able in­form­a­tion about the po­ten­tial dir­ect im­pacts of cli­mate change on par­tic­u­lar sec­tors and busi­nesses. And also con­sist­ent, com­par­able and re­li­able in­form­a­tion about the com­pan­ies them­selves. Com­pan­ies are pro­du­cing re­ports that are de­lu­ging in­vestors on how they are meas­ur­ing and man­aging their im­pact on and from cli­mate change. However, there is some dis­tance to go be­fore in­vestors can com­pare the in­form­a­tion across the eco­nomy to make in­formed de­cisions. Or­gan­isa­tions such as Baringa, who have kindly con­trib­uted to this re­port, sup­port the same cli­ents from a par­al­lel per­spect­ive. They help in­vestors and cor­por­ates to as­sess cli­mate risk ex­pos­ure by us­ing Baringa’s Cli­mate Change Scen­ario Mod­el­ling. Tools such as these are in­valu­able for mak­ing the best de­cisions from the in­form­a­tion avail­able on risks to com­pan­ies and the cred­ib­il­ity of their ad­apt­a­tion and trans­ition plans.On cli­mate lit­ig­a­tion, this is a dir­ect and grow­ing risk to cor­por­ates who fall un­der the spot­light of a vari­ety of po­ten­tial claims against an in­creas­ing num­ber of po­ten­tial claimants. It is prudent to act­ively man­age this risk through dis­pute avoid­ance strategies, hav­ing plans in place to deal quickly and ef­fect­ively with the situ­ation where a claim is brought, and un­der­stand­ing the key fea­tures that are typ­ic­ally at play in such lit­ig­a­tion.Cor­por­ates are well aware that cli­mate risks are an in­teg­ral fea­ture of their busi­ness plan­ning. What some oc­ca­sion­ally cri­ti­cise is the lack of long term cer­tainty. Mak­ing knee jerk de­cisions based on woolly polit­ic­al sen­ti­ments that could change to­mor­row rarely makes good busi­ness sense. Clear­er long term policy state­ments from gov­ern­ments and inter-gov­ern­ment­al in­sti­tu­tions can help on this, as well as clear­er policies on how gov­ern­ments see the shape of the fu­ture zero car­bon eco­nomy, and the path­ways to it. Quite apart from the out­comes of COP26, with the private sec­tor com­mit­ting en masse to the cli­mate agenda and the abil­ity to scru­tin­ise the private sec­tor’s re­sponse through cli­mate dis­clos­ures, net zero plans and oth­er ac­tions they take, we an­ti­cip­ate that the is­sue of Cli­mate Risk will con­tin­ue to rise up board­room agen­das.
22/09/2021
EU Green Deal, sus­tain­ab­il­ity and com­pet­i­tion law: European Com­mis­sion’s...
In Decem­ber 2019, the European Com­mis­sion presen­ted the “European Green Deal”, which com­mits to cli­mate neut­ral­ity by 2050. EU Mem­ber States prom­ised to re­duce emis­sions by at least 55% by 2030, com­pared...
31/08/2021
Re­ima­gin­ing Trans­port: Hy­dro­gen Trains
In the first in our Re­ima­gin­ing Trans­port series, we look at the po­ten­tial for hy­dro­gen powered trains to be­come a part of the rail net­work’s move to net-zero. Already in op­er­a­tion in se­lect rail lines...
12/08/2021
Im­port­ant con­sulta­tion on clas­si­fic­a­tion, la­belling and pack­aging of sub­stances...
Over­view Un­til 15 Novem­ber 2021 the European Com­mis­sion (“Com­mis­sion”) is con­sult­ing on pro­posed re­vi­sions to Reg­u­la­tion (EC) 1272/2008 on the clas­si­fic­a­tion, la­belling and pack­aging of sub­stances...
23/07/2021
Fit for 55: A new cli­mate pack­age
On 14 Ju­ly 2021, the European Com­mis­sion pub­lished the largest le­gis­lat­ive pack­age re­lated to the cli­mate and en­ergy: “Fit for 55”. The main as­sump­tion of the new pack­age is a re­duc­tion of 55% in...
01/06/2021
First in­sect product gran­ted nov­el food ap­prov­al in the EU
On 3 May 2021, the European Com­mis­sion’s Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Plants, An­im­als, Food and Feed (“PAFF Com­mit­tee”) voted in fa­vour of a draft leg­al act au­thor­ising dried yel­low meal­worm to be placed...
01/06/2021
Some leaks can­'t be fixed
“Con­fid­en­tial in­form­a­tion is like an ice cube... give it to the party who has no re­fri­ger­at­or or will not agree to keep it in one, and by the time of the tri­al you have just a pool of wa­ter.” This...