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Species Protection under the Guidelines and Regulations for Road Construction (RVS)

What is at issue?

The European Nature Conservation Directives deliberately provide Member States with a certain national leeway in terms of methodological approaches to projects or procedures. The underlying rationale is to do justice to varying situations regarding habitats and species, data availability as well as country-specific procedures. Depending on the capacities of Member States to interpret correctly and take advantage of this national leeway, it can end up being of disadvantage. In Austria, for many species and habitats there are no binding regulations providing for a uniform interpretation of specific stipulations across the country. The methods for the ecological assessment of a planned project's interference with species and habitats are still very heterogeneous. The fact that the basic conditions for these species varies widely, intensifies the effects of non-uniform surveys and assessments.

What is the benefit?

The Species Protection Regulation RVS 04.03.115 (among the Guidelines and Regulations for Road Construction - RVS) is intended to support an EU-compliant, uniform assessment of the impact of infrastructure projects on plants and animals, thus contributing to a maximum possible legal certainty in procedures. By defining survey and assessment methods more precisely, the RVS Species Protection Regulation intends to help prevent extra effort and expense in the future, caused by avoidable complaints or infringement procedures.

What do we do?

On behalf of Austrian Research Association for Roads, Railways and Transport (FSV), Wolfgang Suske has been heading the "RVS Species Protection" Committee since 2012. It brings together 20 experts from nature conservation authorities, the Ministry of Transport, planning offices, road construction departments and Austria's main public road construction and management company (ASFINAG). Together they developed the new RVS Species Protection Regulation, which entered into force on 1 October 2015. The Committee continues to hold meetings when adaptations or amendments become necessary.

«The RVS Species Protection Regulation should make expert assessments more transparent and lead to more legal certainty. »

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