Press release: 11 March 2020

Court hearing as German landowner challenges Nord Stream 2 on climate grounds

German journalist and landowner Malte Heynen has taken German local authorities to court for “misguidedly approving” construction of the EUGAL gas pipeline – a vital component of the controversial Nord Stream 2 project.

The case, set to be heard on Thursday 12 March 2020, aims to block the pipeline, which Mr Heynen says will lead to decades of overreliance on yet another fossil fuel across Europe – and drive runaway climate change.

Currently, Mr Heynen’s land is set to be temporarily taken from him while the pipeline is constructed, a procedure allowed under German law for ‘vital’ projects. But he believes this justification does not have a legal basis.

Any disruption to EUGAL approval would be an existential threat to the entire Nord Stream 2 project.

Mr Heynen is being supported in this challenge by environmental lawyers ClientEarth.

He said: “My aim in taking this case is to play my part in averting climate breakdown. We are in the bizarre situation where Europe is acknowledging an existential climate crisis but giving the thumbs up to a transcontinental fossil fuel project.

“We cannot see prolonged use of gas in Europe as a solution to climate change – we need to fully embrace renewables, as fast as possible, and not be seduced by another fossil fuel.

The case is based on the way the project was approved – including illegally omitting to assess its climate impact, and relying on gas demand forecasts supplied by the gas industry itself.

He added: “The authorities here have misguidedly approved a project that is manifestly a huge climate risk, swallowing forecasts drafted by the gas industry itself to justify it. Meanwhile, no assessment whatsoever was done on the greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the project.

“If states are making major commitments on climate but local authorities are waving through climate hazards, we should seriously question if we have the right safeguards in place to combat the climate crisis.”

Inadequate impact assessments have been a pattern since the inception of Nord Stream 2, with ClientEarth’s Polish team having challenged it twice in the past years.

Authorities in Sweden and Finland had failed to acknowledge the impacts on marine wildlife from detonating World War II explosives to make way for the pipeline.

Energy lead for ClientEarth’s Warsaw office Ilona Jedrasik said: “Nord Stream 2 is an unnecessary project – the European Parliament has already made this clear, outlining it as a threat to energy security, not a saviour. Not only does this project have hugely negative consequences for nature, wildlife and climate across several countries, it jeopardises our progress towards climate neutrality and increases reliance on imports.”

The ruling is expected soon after the hearing, and could be as early as the same day.


Notes to editors:

The case will be heard on Thursday 12 March 2020 in the Higher Administrative Court Berlin-Brandenburg at 09:30 CET (Hardenbergstraße 31, closest station Zoo). The hearing is public and journalists are welcome to attend. Arrival should be before 09:15 to allow for security checks.

The environmental lawyer representing Mr Heynen in this case is Thorsten Deppner.

Mr Heynen and Mr Deppner will be available at the hearing for comment.

Doubts have been raised over the project by the European Parliament since 2016, pointing to its possible impacts on EU energy security.

The EUGAL pipeline would run from Lubmin an der Ostsee to Deutschneudorf on the Czech border – a length of nearly 500km in total. It would transport 55 billion cubic metres of gas each year, translating to at least 100 million tonnes of CO2.

Germany is currently being heavily criticised for its approval of fossil fuel projects that mean eviction of homes and farmland. ClientEarth is also supporting the Menschenrecht vor Bergrecht campaign, a group of homeowners willing to battle expansion of the Garzweiler lignite mine in court.


Ellen Baker, Strategic Communications Manager – ClientEarth +44 (0)203 030 5951 |
Malte Heynen – +44 (0)1577 157 0044 |

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect people and the planet. We are international lawyers finding practical solutions for the world’s biggest environmental challenges. We are fighting climate change, protecting oceans and wildlife, making forest governance stronger, greening energy, making business more responsible and pushing for government transparency. We believe the law is a tool for positive change. From our offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing, we work on laws throughout their lifetime, from the earliest stages to implementation. And when those laws are broken, we go to court to enforce them.