Environmental Management Act

Almost all national legislation on the environment is incorporated in the Environmental Management Act. This act sets out an integrated approach to environmental management in the Netherlands and provides the legal framework by defining the roles of national, provincial or regional, and municipal government. 

The Act stipulates the tools to be used in environmental management including:

  • Environmental plans, for instance, the national waste management plan that regulates municipal waste collection, disposal of discarded equipment such as refrigerators and TVs, and permits for hazardous waste shipment.
  • Environmental quality criteria for emissions and discharges of harmful substances such as greenhouse gases and heavy metals to air, water and soil. 
  • Environmental impact assessment is a prerequisite for the construction of major infrastructure such as oil refineries, nuclear power plants, chemical plants, roads, railways, and oil and gas pipelines. 
  • Environmental permits: In addition to regulations for the emission of substances harmful to the environment, large companies, such as chemical plants, are required to obtain environmental permits that stipulate limits for the discharge of substances harmful to the environment.
  • Environmental reporting is directed to stimulating companies to make production cleaner and more environmentally friendly. Many companies such as those involved in metal processing and chemical production are required to publish an annual environmental report. The Ministry is responsible for ensuring that the reporting requirement of the EU Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) are met. Those companies and organisations required to prepare an Integrated PRTR report on waste, air emissions (greenhouse gases), and discharges into water sources are listed in the Publicatieblad van de Europese Unie Bijlage II van de EG-verordening PRTR. 
  • Enforcement: the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate is largely responsible for ensuring the provisions of the Environmental Management Act are enforced. Enforcement is also a task of the municipalities, the police and the justice system.