National legislation

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National legislation

In addition to EU policies, national regulations play a key role in defining the regulatory setting for planning and operating hydropower plants as well as for planning relevant mitigation measures. In particular, the following types of national regulations should be taken into account:

  • Water Acts / Water Protection Acts
  • Water Infrastructure Acts
  • Energy Acts
  • Nature Protection Acts
  • Fishing / Fisheries Acts
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Acts

National regulatory settings are very diverse and differ from country to country. Therefore, this page cannot give a comprehensive picture of national regulations in the EU. You may refer to the FIThydro report “Deliverable 5.1. Review of policy requirements and financing instruments” for a review of national legislation in eight European countries (Spain, Portugal, France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway). This review focused on legislation relevant to ecological improvements in water ecosystems, environmental conditions related to hydropower schemes as well as legislation on renewable energy production. An overview of the reviewed legislation is given in the table below.

Table - Summary of national legislation reviewed in eight European countries

Country Water
Fisheries Environmental
impact assessment
renewable energy
Name of laws and dates
NO X X X X X X The Watercourse Regulation Act (1917)
The Water Resources Act (2001)
The Plan and Building Act (2010)
The Biodiversity Act (2016)
The Salmon and inland fisheries Act (2016)
The Energy Act (1991)
SE X X X Ordinance on Water Quality Management (2004)
Environmental Code (1999)
Water Law (1918)
Ordinance concerning EQS for fish and mussels (2001)
Electricity Preparedness Act (1997)
DE X X X X X Federal Water Act (2009)
Federal Nature Conservation Act (2010),
Federal Emission Control Act (2013),
Law on Environmental Impact Assessment Act (2010)
Renewable Energy Sources Act (2012),
Environmental Damage Act (2007)
AT X X X National Water Act (1959)
EIA Act (2000)
Green Electricity Act (2012)
CH X X X X X Federal Act on the Protection of Waters (1991)
Federal Act on Fisheries (1991)
Environmental Protection Act (1983)
Energy Act (1998)
Federal Hydropower Act (1918)
Federal Act on Hydraulic Engineering (1991)
FR X X X X X X Law on fish and fisheries (1865)
Law n°64-1245 on water regime and distribution and pollution control (1964)
Law n°76-629 on nature protection (1976)
Law n°84-512 on freshwater fishing and the management of fish resources (1984)
Law n°92-3 on water (1992)
Law n°2006-1772 on water and aquatic environments
Law n° 2009-967 for the implementation of the "Grenelle de l'environnement"
Ministerial circular on waterworks
Law on the use of hydraulic energy (1919)
Law n°80-531 on economies of energy and heat utilisation
Law n°2000-108 on the modernization and development of the public electricity service
Law n°2005-781 setting the energy policy guidelines (POPE)
Law n°2015-992 on the energy transition for green growth
ES X X X X X X Water Act (2001) Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Act (2007)
Rivers Fishing Act (1942)
Environmental Impact Assessment Act (2013)
Electric Sector Act (2013)
PT X X X X X X Water Law (2005)
National network of nature protected areas (2008)
Freshwater Fisheries Law (2015)
Legislation on environmental impact assessment (2013)
Water Resources Utilization Regime (2007)
Legal Framework of Activities Developed under the National Electric System (2012)

Source: Kampa et al. (2017).

Literature cited

  • Kampa et al. (2017), FIThydro Deliverable 5.1. Review of policy requirements and financing instruments.