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Environment and Planning Act

The Environment and Planning Act has been in force since 1 January 2024. All regulations concerning the physical environment, previously scattered across various laws and regulations covering topics such as construction, environment, water management, spatial planning, heritage conservation and nature, are now consolidated into one law and detailed in four General Administrative Orders.

For provinces, municipalities, and water authorities, significant changes are underway in environmental law. Not only are there new policy instruments, but also different terminology, and many rules are decentralised. Moreover, decentralised authorities have more flexibility to realise their own ambitions in the living environment through tailored approaches, with societal challenges forming a crucial part of the Environment and Planning Act.

Core instruments

Working with the Environment and Planning Act requires a new approach in thinking and acting within the physical environment. Instead of approaching issues sectorally, the Environment and Planning Act offers opportunities for more integrated and coherent approaches.

Under the Environment and Planning Act, zoning plans are replaced by environmental plans, with the environmental vision (previously a structural vision) serving as a framework. This allows municipalities to create flexibility and enable organic area development, for example, by flexibly zoning within certain parameters. Provinces and water authorities will work with provincial environmental regulations and water authority regulations, respectively. The project decision replaces spatial integration plans and is intended for complex projects with a public interest.

Keep an eye on this page!

To share knowledge, identify initial jurisprudence, and exchange new insights into the Environment and Planning Act during this crucial initial period, we are launching Insight into the Environment and Planning Act: a platform where we share blogs, vlogs, podcasts and other expressions about the legal interpretation and practical applications of the Environment and Planning Act. Through this platform, we also keep you informed of all our other knowledge sharing regarding the Environment and Planning Act.

How can we assist you in practice?

Our Environmental Law team is engaged daily in advising provinces, municipalities, water authorities and initiators in the field of the physical environment. We have assisted several municipalities in developing expanded scope zoning plans – the predecessors of environmental plans under the Environment and Planning Act. As a result, we incorporate the desired flexibility into a plan while ensuring that the quality of the physical environment is not compromised. We are also involved in advising on the preparation of project decisions for various projects.

For authorities and initiators, it is essential to align the planning and organisation of projects with the Environment and Planning Act in a timely manner. We can provide you with specific information on what is important for you. Would you like to have a free and non-binding discussion with us about your possibilities under the Environment and Planning Act? Feel free to contact Daniëlle Roelands-Fransen, Jim Zweers or one of the other specialists from the team.