Provincial tasks

The provincial authorities are responsible for such matters as spatial planning in rural areas, regional accessibility and regional economic policy. For instance, they decide where new business parks may be built.

Provinces implement national and provincial policy

Provinces have autonomous powers to decide on many issues, such as where roads are to be built. They also implement certain national laws, for instance on creating new protected areas for nature.

What provincial authorities do

Provincial authorities:

  • decide if towns and villages are allowed to grow and where business parks may be built. This is laid down in the Spatial Planning Act;
  • draw up structure plans, which designate where roads, railway lines, shipping routes, and areas for industry, farms, nature and recreation are to be located. Municipalities use the structure plans to draw up their own local land-use plans;
  • are responsible for building and maintaining provincial roads, cycle paths and bridges;
  • ensure that recreational waters are clean and create safe routes for lorries transporting hazardous substances. These tasks are laid down in national environmental laws;
  • create new nature areas and maintain existing areas; 
  • monitor compliance with environmental laws on air, soil and water quality. Provincial authorities also clean up pollution and carry out soil remediation;
  • ensure that ambulances can reach any destination in their territory within 15 minutes;
  • supervise the regional water authority;
  • supervise municipalities. Every year, municipalities must submit their budget and annual accounts to the provincial executive for its approval.