ADDRESSING SHORTCOMINGS OF THE MULTI-LEVEL GOVERNANCE SCHEMES

Because governance within the EU involves many levels of interaction between a broad array of officials, some researchers have used the term ‘multi-level governance’ to describe the EU system since the 1990s. Marks (1993: 392, quoted in Hooghe and Marks (2003)) describes it as a ‘system of continuous negotiation among nested governments at several territorial tiers—supranational, national, regional and local’. Section 28.3 explored the socioeconomic factors involved in acceptance, while this section focuses on particular shortcomings in how actions are articulated among actors in each region, as well as between regional and national levels.

Governance Challenges at the Regional Level

Brandenburg State has planned to allocate 2 per cent of its territory for wind farms by 2030, with a projected production level of 10,500 MW. This rate of development will require the construction of about 130 wind turbines per year (BWE 2014). In the face of rising discontent, and to avoid questioning their targets, since 2003, Brandenburg officials have emphasized the notion of acceptance defined as ‘a process enabling the development of direct dialogue’ (Ministry of Economy and Energy of Brandenburgh 2012).

Imposing an increase in the minimum distance defined by the usual rule (300-500 metres) between wind turbines and housing also represents an option. In response to pressure from Bavaria, the Bund granted authority to the states to rule on this issue in 2014, for a period ending on 31 December 2015. The Bavarian government has taken advantage of this opportunity to introduce the 10H rule.4 Early in 2015, the Brandenburg government announced that it would not adopt a similar provision since it would indeed mean the abandonment of the initiative to install wind turbines on 2 per cent of the region’s area.

The support provided by regional authorities to wind energy nevertheless suffers from the parallel support granted to the mining industry (9,000 direct jobs). The coalition contract considers the shutdown of thermal plants by 2040, but the transition period could last longer in view of the reaction provoked by a federal government decision to impose a ‘climate levy’ on the oldest coal plants. On 27 March 2015, the German Ministry for Economy and Energy proposed to introduce a carbon emissions tax of €18-20 per tonne of CO2 on old coal power plants in operation for more than 20 years. Such a decision would push out of the market the oldest coal power plants and help to reach the German targets related to greenhouse gas emissions (German Ministry of Economy and Energy 2015). However, the decision sparked strong reaction from coal miners’ unions from the industry. Three states with significant mining sectors, amongst them Brandenburg, argued that several

4 According to this rule, the distance between a wind turbine and the closest accommodation should be factor 10 of the height of the wind turbine. The Land of Bavaria nevertheless authorizes some derogations to this rule. See Zaspel-Heisters (2014).

thousands of jobs might be at risk (Ministry of Economy and Energy of Brandenburg 2015). The proposal was withdrawn in June 2015 (Frese 2015). A new and much less controversial one suggested that lignite power plants with a capacity of 2.7 GW (i.e., 13 per cent of the capacity of German lignite power plants) will be put on ‘temporary standby’. These power plants will only come into operation in emergency situations and, instead of being taxed as planned by the previous proposal, will receive compensation for remaining on standby for four years, and should then be closed (Ifo Institut 2015). This solution could prove costly—its costs are estimated at €0.5-1 billion annually (Bajczuk 2015)—and should cut emissions to 11 million tonnes only by 2020. Thus, to reach the original objective of the government (reduction in carbon emissions of 22 million tonnes) additional investments, in particular in the area of energy efficiency, have been agreed (Ifo Institut 2015).

Thus, the example of Brandenburg illustrates the fact that a successful energy transition requires more than creating a boom in alternative energies. At the same time, at both the economic and social levels, the gradual marginalization of ‘failing’ energies must be prepared.

In terms of acceptance, territorial planning also plays an important role. In this respect, Brandenburg can rely on two main documents: the ‘2030 Energy Strategy’, which has little legal constraint, and the land use plan for the entire Berlin-Brandenburg region, ratified in 2009 before being legally declared void and again becoming effective in June 2015.[1] [2] The plan does not specify the eligible areas for wind farms, however, which are defined by the five Brandenburg planning regions (Regionalen Planungsgemeinschaften).6 A planning region has its own legal persona and the decision-making organ is an assembly that meets one to three times a year in which the Kreise and towns of more than 10,000 inhabitants are represented.[3] One of the planning region’s responsibilities is the adoption of the plan specifying which zones are eligible for wind energy. To this end, the assembly uses a process of elimination that takes various aspects of Bund or regional legislation into account—such as protected zones, noise pollution, army radars, and weather forecast services— that enable the progressive limitation of territories that ban wind energy.

Residual areas constitute zones in which wind turbines can be implanted.[4] The territories not included in these zones, in the case of Brandenburg, ban wind farms (other states employ a different approach). As a result, the regional plan is not so much a variation of the state strategy as a document that defines which zones are authorized for wind turbines under current legislation. Such a plan requires time (at least three years) and can face disagreement between representatives, leading to postponement and eventual cancellation. In the absence of a plan, the regulations of the federal city-planning code according to the 1997 reforms prevail.

Article 35 of the federal urbanism code, modified in 1997, granted a privileged administrative regime to wind farms.[5] Wind farm construction must be authorized for any non-urban zone if it does not prejudice the general interest and has no harmful consequences for environment, protected sites, radars, and so on. In 1998, this provision was amended, with the federal code specifying that an installation can have a negative impact on general interest when a regional or municipal plan for wind turbines on other parts of the same territory has been adopted. Within the framework of a land use plan (Flachennutzungsplan), or, in the event of such a plan not existing, of a district plan (Teilflachennutzungsplan), a town can therefore specify an area dedicated to wind farms in order to avoid the scattering of installations. In 2002, the Administrative Tribunal nevertheless specified that towns are unable to prevent wind turbines from being installed on their entire territory, because this would violate the principle of the preferred administrative regime given by the federal urbanization code. Ultimately, developers can sue towns determined to restrict the possibility of installing wind turbines (in Brandenburg, this happened to the town of Beelitz in 2015 (Steglich 2015)).

Like their counterparts in Brandenburg, regional authorities in Aquitaine are attempting to redefine their relations with other public actors in terms of energy transition. As in Brandenburg, they are torn between a willingness to develop renewable energies and determination to maintain the industrial workforce (specifically with regard to the forest products industry). They emphasize different ways of managing woodland, considering the fact that the conflict over how such land is used has significantly worsened since two recent storms (Martin in December 1999 and Klaus in January 2009). After the storms, the production potential for maritime pine plummeted from

9.5 million m3/year prior to Martin to 6 million m3/year after Klaus. Industrial demand for wood is between 7 and 8 million m3, however. Finally, it appears that recurrent violent climatic phenomena, which are arguably caused by global warming (Le Treut 2013), are partly responsible for increased tensions concerning forest resources. In this context, regional authorities support new methods of forest management as well as exploiting forest biomass without undermining forest products markets. Since responsibilities are fragmented between different institutions, a highly cooperative approach is needed between stakeholders.

Beyond institutional settings, more fluid forms of governance are developing in the region, whether on the scale of a living area, a planted zone, or even, for example,[6] [7] between urban areas and neighbouring rural areas. The energy transition thus induces on the one hand (slow) progress in terms of decentralization and on the other, informal cooperation at different levels, thus echoing the distinction established by Hooghe and Marks between the Type I and II of multi-level governance (Hooghe and Marks (2003), quoted in Stead (2014)).11 However, responsibilities are fragmented between numerous local, regional, and national stakeholders, partly because the national authorities have so far been reluctant to devolve more policy competences to the regional level.

  • [1] See (accessed 2 July 2015).
  • [2] Havelland-Flaming, Lausitz-Spreewald, Oderland-Spree, Prignitz-Oberhavel, andUckermark-Barnim.
  • [3] An intermediary level local authority, between the region (the Land) and the municipality(Gemeinde).
  • [4] The planning regions deal exclusively with the issue of wind turbines. Solar energy andbiomass requiring less space, their planning is left exclusively to towns.
  • [5] Paragraph 35 of the Urbanism Code. The federal Urbanism Code quotes various projectsunder this regime. The decision to include the implantation of wind turbines was adopted by theGerman Parliament in 1996.
  • [6] As an example, one can mention the ‘forest exploitation charts’ or the ‘rural poles ofexcellence’.
  • [7] Hooghe and Marks distinguish between two basic types of multi-level governance, labelledType I and Type II. Type I governance is designed around territorial communities, while Type IIis designed around specific tasks or policy issues.
 
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