As a company, you may encounter environmental law if you have to deal with the emission of gases, the disposal of waste materials or contamination of soil or water. You may also have to comply with zoning plans and environmental permits. When it comes to public-law acts, you can also think of the emission of ammonia by livestock farms. The government tries to prevent pollution and protect the quality of soil, air and water by means of environmental legislation. This legislation is laid down for example in the Environmental Management Act, the General Provisions for Environmental Law Act and since 2021 in the Environmental Law Act. Enforcement of these environmental laws takes place in the Dutch administrative law, criminal and civil law. The Inspectorate of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) checks and inspects companies for compliance with these laws and regulations.
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Would you like more legal information on this subject? You can contact us for legal advice and legal assistance for all your environmental questions and problems. It is also possible to start legal proceedings for your company. Our environmental lawyers are ready to answer your questions.
Which environmental laws apply to your company and whether you have to deal with the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, depends on the extent to which your company has an impact on the environment. In the Netherlands, three categories of companies are defined in this context:
Category A: companies in this category have the least impact on the environment. Companies in this category consist in particular of offices, banks and kindergartens and have at least a minimum impact on environmental law. Such companies do not have to apply for an environmental permit for their activities, neither do they have to report Activity Decree.
Category B: companies that have a significant impact on the environment are placed in category B. For their business activities, such as printing works and car wash and repair, they are required to report Activity Decree. The notification may concern the application of contaminated soil, deposit and transport of waste or an unusual incident. In a number of cases, a limited environmental permit (OBM) must also be applied.
Category C: companies within this category, for example metalworking companies, have a large impact on the environment. This category is also subject to an obligation to provide information based on the Activities Decree. Additionally, these companies must also apply for an environmental permit for their business activities. The environmental law lawyers of Law & More can determine under which category your company is listed and to which obligations you have to comply. You can also expect assistance from us in applying for an environmental permit or in making a notification of the Activities Decree.
Undertakings in the category C must apply for a environmental permit. Without this permit, it is prohibited to start, modify or operate an establishment. The following conditions must be met before the environmental permit is granted:
According to the Environmental Management Act, Wm-establishment is considered to exist if the establishment concerns a company (or if it is the size of a company), the activity is at one location and lasts at least six months (or regularly returns to the same location) and the activity is included in Appendix I of the Environmental Law Decree.
A company must apply for an OBM for two types of activities:
The activities may include establishing a company, but also making changes. It is also possible that two OBMs are required for one company. When you apply for an OBM for a certain activity, the competent authority, usually the municipality, will check the activity in question before you can start your activity. This will result in an authorisation or a refusal.
This Act has already been adopted by parliament and is expected to enter into force in 2021. The main contribution of the Environmental Act is the compilation of various existing laws to make legislation on environmental law more transparent and user-friendly. The lawyers of Law & More can advise you on the transitional law and possible changes that may apply for your company.