Another Major Step Towards a New Environment and Planning Act in the Netherlands
The Dutch government is working on a major overhaul of the statutory environmental framework in the Netherlands. In this context, four key environmental decrees (AMvBs) (the Decrees) were adopted and published in the Dutch Government Gazette on Aug. 31, 2018.
The publication of the Decrees is part of a major and fundamental revision of practically all Dutch environmental legislation. Dozens of acts and decrees and hundreds of rules will be bundled into one Environment and Planning Act (Omgevingswet) (the Act), including the Decrees. The Act itself was published in the Government Gazette on April 26, 2016.
This legislative program includes significant changes. Statutory obligations to attain a permit will, for example, be reduced or replaced with more general environmental rules. As a result, the industry expects a shift from permitting to supervision and enforcement. In addition, facilities with large amounts of hazardous substances will be exposed to administrative fines if they violate hazardous substances regulations (such a measure currently is not available for administrative authorities in the enforcement of hazardous substances).
Further, the municipal zoning plan (currently a key administrative instrument used to assign certain uses to plots of land) will be replaced with a new instrument, the environment plan (omgevingsplan), which should include comprehensive environmental rules (and not just the designated use of a plot). Based on the Act, local authorities may also choose to abolish the (current) requirement to attain a building permit, if they see fit. These amendments may have a major impact on development projects in the Netherlands.
The Act and the Decrees are scheduled to enter into force on Jan. 1, 2021. This allows for a period of transition during which governmental authorities and the industry can take the necessary preparatory actions.