Trade facilities – other approvals

Apart from approval under commercial law for operating trade facilities, the following approvals may be required:


These rules apply to all entrepreneurs from EU Member States in Austria.

Obligation to obtain approval under nature conservation law

In accordance with nature conservation laws in the federal provinces, there are general obligations regarding the protection and care of nature as a basis for human, animal and plant life.

Nature conservation falls solely within the domain of the federal provinces.

The following items are always checked during the approval process in accordance with nature conservation law:

  • Does the measure contravene the legally valid zoning plan for the municipality?
  • Does the measure have a negative impact on the landscape?
  • Is the fabric of the ecosystem impacted or can such impact be expected?
  • Is the character of the landform negatively impacted?
  • Is the object of protection defined in each of the protected area ordinances (e.g. animals, plants, habitats) or the purpose of protection (e.g. maintaining species and their habitats) negatively impacted or can such impact be expected?

These review tasks and the preparation of an expert’s report will be performed as part of the official process by the experts for landscape or nature conservation.

Relevant body

Please note

Obligations and conditions may be linked with this approval.

Obligation to obtain approval under water rights law

The normal usage of public water bodies made without special equipment and that does not exclude equal use by other parties is expressly permitted. For example, no official approval is required for bathing, washing, watering, plant harvesting (e.g. water plants) and the use of ice covering (e.g. skating). This is called 'communal use'.

However, official approval in accordance with the Water Rights Act (Wasserrechtsgesetz, WRG) is required for the use of public water bodies beyond 'communal use'. This applies in particular for:

  • Use/utilisation of bodies of water to produce energy and setup or modification of the plant used for this purpose (e.g. power stations), and changes to the purpose of the water use.
  • Accessing or using groundwater and for the associated interventions into the groundwater balance, as well as for setup or modification of the plant used for this purpose
    The Water Rights Act (Wasserrechtsgesetz, WRG) does envisage a limited exception in this respect for land owners.

In addition to these 'typical' approval elements, the following elements, among others, also require water rights approval:

  • More than limited impacts on water bodies that directly or indirectly affect their state of preservation (e.g. deposits into the water body – as with wastewater treatment plants – and seepage).
  • Using special equipment to obtain sand and gravel.
  • Facilities for the production of geothermal energy in specially protected water rights areas.
  • Plants for the production of geothermal energy in the form of vertical collectors (deep probes).
  • Plants for the thermal use of bodies of water.

Under certain conditions, the following elements may also be subject to the obligation to obtain approval under water rights law:

  • Measures in water preservation areas that could pose a risk to the state of preservation, fertility or level of the water resources.
  • The construction and modification of bridges, jetties and shoreline structures.
    This essentially also applies for water protection and regulation structures and drainage systems.
  • Temporary interventions in the water balance (e.g. pumping experiments or hydraulic engineering and water management experiments in the wild).

An application for the granting of water rights approval can be submitted to the competent body in each instance.

Relevant body

in Vienna: the MA 58German text – water rights.

Please note

The Austrian Trade Regulation Act of 1994German text (GewO 1994) transfers the responsibility for water rights approvals for specific points (e.g. wastewater inlets into water bodies) to the commercial authorityGerman text. This means that water rights approvals can be granted directly by the commercial authorityGerman text during the operational facilities permitting process.

Other approvals

  • Official building permit

In the building permit process, the construction project is reviewed in terms of building lawGerman text and the zoning plan. However, the granting of a building permit does not mean that an operational facilities permit is being granted for the project.

  • Traffic and road access rights permit

Additional measures are required if there are possible risks or obstructions to road traffic. If should be checked carefully whether the planned site of the operating facility is in a road protected zone and whether vehicle access can be approved.

  • Approval under railway law

Similar to areas around roads, there is a specially protected area around railway lines. If a railway connection is planned, the railway authorities must be contacted before planning is started.

  • Approvals under forestry law (clearing operations if wooded areas are used, approval for facilities generating air contaminants that are harmful to forests).
  • Approval in accordance with the Air Traffic Act.
  • Approval in accordance with the Emissions Protection Act for Boiler Plants (Emissionsschutzgesetz für Kesselanlagen, EG-K).
  • Line easements for electricity, gas, telephone lines etc. near to operating facilities.
  • Approvals under provincial law for the use of public lands.
  • Approval under organisation regulations of the federal provinces.
Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 1 January 2024

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management

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