Needs- and demand-based planning

Legal options for and procedural aspects of an instrument for enhanced environmental protection


Prof. Dr. Kurt Faßbender (University of Leipzig)
Carla Schönfelder (team ewen)


11/2014 − 11/2016


Report for the Federal Environment Agency (Environmental Research Plan FKZ 3714 18102 0)


There are many forms of integrating demands and needs into planning systems in Germany: Needs- and demand-based planning (“Bedarfsplanung”) is one step within the multi-level planning system for the construction of federal transport routes or electric transmission lines. Furthermore, consideration of needs and demands also forms part of planning permission procedures (justification for planning, “Planrechtfertigung”) and drives planning decisions within the body of law relating to planning of hospitals, and local and regional infrastructure planning (such as sanitation planning or waste management planning). Needs and demands also play a role in spatial planning law, particularly when land must be reserved for specific purposes like flood protection, generating wind power or other “infrastructure”-purposes (e.g. for trade fairs, airports or ports).

The project intends to clarify the aims of different kinds of needs- and demand-based planning. It analyses how needs- and demands-based planning is to be distinguished from other planning sys-tems which include consideration of needs and demands, for example the assessment of alternatives (“Alternativenprüfung”). It is not envisaged to investigate all types of needs- and demand-based planning systems but to pursue an exemplary approach, focusing primarily on environmental decision-making processes. In particular, the project will concentrate on multi-level planning systems with a determination of needs and demands by statutory law as a starting point. In this context, the planning process for transmission lines can be seen as a good example and is therefore the main focus of this study – particularly regarding possibilities to improve the process of detecting and determining needs and demands when planning new transmission lines. Additionally, the European legal framework and guidelines for planning are considered.

Based on this evaluation, reform considerations for needs- and demands-based planning will be developed, particularly with regard to:

  • providing a clearer definition and enhancing understanding of what needs and demands are,
  • competencies, the position of needs- and demands-based planning in the planning process, and procedural aspects
  • aspects of control and
  • standards for good practice needs- and demands-based planning.

This study also deals with constitutional, European and international law. The constitutional revision is twofold. It is supposed to anchor the request for requirement for needs and demands based planning constitutionally and to investigate to what extent requirement planning can be based on the national objective of environmental protection. Moreover, the identified reform ideas will be checked for their alignment with the requirements of constitutional law. Special attention will be paid to constraints in the context of federalism regarding the relationship between the federal state and the German “Länder”. The part looking at European and international law will mainly focus on the constraints of needs- and demands-based planning.

The results of the analysis will be used to apply the idea of needs- and demands-based planning to the extraction of mineral resources. The project will investigate whether needs- and demands-based planning for mineral resources can be integrated in the spatial planning system. The survey will also explore if such needs- and demands-based planning for mineral resources within spatial planning can be supported by a preparatory sectorial planning within a revised mining law. In this context, the study will rely on guidance and lessons learnt from the system for water resources management.


Köck, W., Bovet, J., Fischer, H., Ludwig, G., Möckel, S., Faßbender, K., (2017):
Das Instrument der Bedarfsplanung – Rechtliche Möglichkeiten für und verfahrensrechtliche Anforderungen an ein Instrument für mehr Umweltschutz
Texte Umweltbundesamt 55/2017
Umweltbundesamt, Dessau-Roßlau, 355 S.
Download report (in German) “Das Instrument der Bedarfsplanung”

Press release (in German):
"Brauchen wir das?" Auf dem Weg zu einer umweltgerechten Bedarfsprüfung von Infrastrukturprojekten