Since 2002, no further licences have been issued for commercial nuclear power plants. Essential modifications to existing nuclear power plants or their operation continue to be possible but require a licence (Section 7, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the German Atomic Energy Act).

The competent licensing authority must involve in the licensing procedure all federal, Land and municipal authorities whose spheres of competence are affected; examples are the building, water, regional planning and disaster risk management authorities. Independent experts are generally commissioned and public consultations take place. This ensures that the licensing authority can take proper account of all stakeholders’ concerns and interests.

Infographic of the licensing procedure

The written permit application is submitted by the applicant to the licensing authority of the Federal State in which the plant is located. On the basis of the documents submitted, the approval authority assesses whether the requirements for granting the permit have been met. As a rule, the licensing authority commissions authorised experts from the state to answer these questions. In addition, the authorities of the Federal States (Länder) are informed.

The licensing authority involves the public in the licensing procedures at an early stage. Public participation gives citizens the opportunity to voice their concerns directly in the procedure.

The licensing authority also informs the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) within the framework of federal supervision before issuing the license and submits the draft approval with application documents and reports. In exercising federal supervision, the BMU obtains advice and technical support from its independent advisory comittees (ESK, SSK, RSK) and, if necessary, from independent federal experts, and, if required, issues a federal supervisory statement to the state authority.

After the licensing authority has given appropriate consideration to all affected concerns, it may issue a license.