What the Environment and Planning Act means for residents

The Environment and Planning Act regulates the physical environment in which people live, work and spend their leisure time. This new law combines existing rules and regulations on things like permitted activities, noise nuisance and pollution. Permit applications can be submitted online on the new Environment and Planning Portal (Omgevingsloket). To build a new garage, for instance, or to replace an attic window. 

Permit applications and the decision-making process

Under the new Act: 

  • permit applications must be submitted online on the Environment and Planning Portal;
  • the rules and plans of all municipal, provincial and water authorities and of central government can also be found on the portal;
  • the relevant public body will decide more quickly on permit applications: within 8 weeks for abridged procedures. This can be extended if necessary;
  • municipalities have one environment and land-use plan for their entire area. It incorporates all the existing land-use plans.

Public authorities must involve residents and businesses in spatial planning (participation)

Public authorities, like municipalities and water authorities must involve residents, businesses and organisations in drafting their spatial plans. For example, when putting together a municipal environment and planning strategy or water ordinance. The rules on public participation are set out in the Environment and Planning Act. For instance, the final plans must state which residents, businesses and organisations were consulted and what the outcome was. 

Participation not usually mandatory for non-public bodies

The municipal council decides whether public participation is required when certain plans are submitted by parties other than public authorities. Participation is not usually mandatory for non-public bodies.