Environmental protection in Germany and the specific role of spatial planning - An introduction
Dr. G. Werner and Florian Bemmerlein-Lux
c/o INTEGRATION environment & energy
Division ECODEC, Antenna Nürnberg:
Hessestr.4, 90443 Nuremberg, Germany
The following paper
has been written by an author who has lived a substantial part of the last two
decades in India and who has worked in the Indian environmental administration.
He has been involved in advising and supporting an Indo-German project in the
field of Technical Assistance in Environmental Capacity Building in environment.
He therefore had the opportunity to compare environmental management in both the
countries. The paper presented here has the main purpose of introducing the
German system of environmental management with specific reference to spatial
environmental planning to interested environmental experts from India. It will
not advocate to copying anything from Germany or to export the system to any
other country in the World. But it advocates learning from experience. To
observe solutions developed and executed in other parts of the World is
illustrative and helpful if confronted with the tasks to strengthen preventive
environmental protection at home.
The article has been written as a
rather subjective perception of developments in environmental protection in
Germany. It is definitely not an carefully balanced academic paper but rather
the attempt to highlight certain developments and their consequences by use of
some striking and illustrative stories or examples. It does not attempt to be
complete but to explain the main features of a system to an outsider. Many
statements are judgmental statements of the author which may and can be viewed
differently. The form was chosen on purpose to sharpen the understanding of the
reader and to simultaneously entertain him with interesting historic
Germany - Her Constitution and Administrative Set -
It is known that Germany dismally failed in some of her
governmental forms. But since late Forties Germany has successfully demonstrated
her ability of existing as a stable, democratic and peaceful country in Central
Europe. Her constitution and her administrative set-up reflects the painful
lessons learned from the past.
Germany and India have many
constitutional and legal features in common. Germany is a federal republic with
some 15 States (of which 3 are City-States). Since India has ten times the
population and area of Germany those States are much smaller that India's. The
States are politically strong and the legislation - like in India - is
subdivided into national responsibilities (defence, air, water and rail traffic
etc.), sole State responsibility (education) and concurrent responsibilities
under which most environmental subjects are subsumed (except nuclear safety
which is national subject).
There are in principle three levels of
Government and administration:
All three levels act
principally independent from each other. Their work and their co-ordination is
based on laws promulgated by the national or by the State assemblies. And
collaboration and co-ordination between concerned governmental authorities is
compulsory and the necessary procedures to be followed are relatively strict.
All three levels have assemblies consisting of members elected in national,
State or local polls. They are normally nominated by the political parties
("system of representative democracy"). These assemblies control their
respective local, State or national governments. In this three-tier set the
local (municipal) level is relatively strong. Local independence - the right of
municipalities to govern their own affairs - has a long tradition in Germany.
The municipalities became independent from the then still feudal hold in 1808.
This 200 years of local independence is still noticeable today and
municipalities are self-assured in their interaction with other institutions or
with higher planning levels. Against their dedicated will nothing is
- The federal (national) level
- The State level (again internally subdivided into a three-tier system)
- The local (municipal) level
Germany has also a long historic tradition of federalism. A
real strong central state only existed under the Hitler regime. Even the
imperial state (the Bismarck - Reich founded in 1871) under the Prussian
Emperors was a federal union of independent sovereigns and cities. A national
educational system for the primary and secondary level does not exist even today
- here the limits of federalism are clearly indicated. So does the smallest
German State: the city state of Bremen with a population of only 500.000 (five
lakh) but with its own assembly, legislation, State administration etc. But as a
consequence of the fascist disaster federalism will remain a prominent feature
of Germany's political system.
One has to understand the historic roots.
Bremen had been independent since medieval times as have been many other German
cities or regions. A striking consequence of this federalism has been a
remarkable cultural and social differentiation found in Germany. A common
national identity (beyond "rule the World") a common national character only
exists in fiction (in the novel "Der Untertan": "The Vassal") the German culture
was - unlike in Great Britain or France - always dominated by regional
influence. Germany is up till now characterised by regionally distinct
socio-cultural milieus. It is this federalism not only moulding the German
national character but also determining the structure and features the planning
system that exists today.