The approval procedure is governed by the Federal Immission Control Act (Bundesimmissionsschutzgesetz, BImSchG) and related ordinances. The environmental agency of the respective federal state (Landesumweltamt) is responsible for the immission control permit procedure.
The BImSchG aims at protecting population and environment from detrimental effects due to air pollution, noise, vibration, light, radiation, and similar immissions. Construction, modification, and operation of emitting facilities require a formal approval procedure.
The permission procedure is limited to seven months, after which time a decision needs to be made: starting from the submission of the completed application documents. The approval procedure can be shortened for facilities or projects which, though still capable of generating detrimental effects, are expected to result in a less harmful or negligible impact on the population or environment.
Facilities likely to be subject to the simplified approval procedure may include facilities for the storage of inflammable gases or mineral oils and small paint or varnish shops. The time limit for the decision is three months starting from the submission of the completed application documents.
Some facilities are permit exempt under the terms of the BImSchG. Although construction, modification, and operation of such facilities are possible without direct authorization, the operator of the facility must nevertheless prevent detrimental effects to the environment and population.