In the years-long legal dispute over Datteln 4, opponents of the power plant suffered a defeat before the Federal Administrative Court. On Thursday, the highest German administrative court in Leipzig overturned rulings by the Higher Administrative Court in Münster, which had declared the development plan for the hard coal-fired power plant ineffective. The OVG based its decision in 2021 on legally unsustainable considerations, ruled the 4th Senate of the Federal Administrative Court. Now the OVG should decide again.

Quarrel for many years

There has been a dispute over the power plant for many years. A first development plan was declared ineffective in 2009 because it was not in line with state planning. The environmental association BUND, the city of Waltrop and several residents had filed a lawsuit against the newly drawn up plan. They primarily criticized errors in the choice of location. After the OVG decision, the city of Datteln and the power plant operator Uniper filed appeals, which the Federal Administrative Court has now decided on.

The energy company Uniper reacted happily to the verdict. “We welcome the decision of the Federal Administrative Court and see our legal position confirmed by this,” said a spokesman.

Reasons for the decision of the Federal Administrative Court

According to the Federal Court, the North Rhine-Westphalian Higher Administrative Court wrongly assumed that errors had been made in the regional planning when choosing the location and that these deficiencies had an impact on the urban development planning of the city of Datteln. It was no fault that the search for a location was limited to the Emscher-Lippe region. During the environmental assessment, the criteria for a suitable location could also be determined in such a way that a hard coal-fired power plant was also an option.

Controversial large power plant

The Datteln 4 hard coal power plant has been supplying electricity since 2020. Its completion was delayed and was accompanied by protests. It is the last coal-fired power plant built in Germany and has an output of 1,100 megawatts. Around a third of the electricity generated in Datteln is supplied to Deutsche Bahn, the rest comes onto the electricity market. The power plant also supplies the city of Datteln with district heating.

Complaints also against operating licenses

The operation of Datteln 4 is based on a so-called emission control permit from 2017. The plaintiffs are also taking action against this. The proceedings are pending at the OVG Münster, but are currently suspended, as a spokeswoman said. Before making a decision on the operating license, the verdict from Leipzig on the effectiveness of the development plan should be awaited.