The System of Environmental Regulations in the Netherlands

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The System of Environmental Regulations in the Netherlands

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This page contains a brief explanation of the Dutch system of environmental regulations applicable to companies. The environmental regulations are usually found in the Activities Decree and/or in the 'All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects'. In addition to the Activities Decree and the permit, a company may also be subject to various other regulations.

Many companies are required to provide a notification in accordance with the Activities Decree upon start-up or when they make changes. Others require an 'All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for the environmental aspect' or an 'All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects limited environmental impact assessment' ('OBM').

Companies that have relevant impact on the environment

Many environmental regulations do not apply to companies that have little or no impact on the environment. This is the case for, for example, many shops. The environmental regulations apply if a company has all of the following characteristics:

  • it is a company or something the size of a company
  • its activities take place in one location and not in multiple locations
  • the activities have a duration of at least six months or return regularly to the same location
  • the activities are listed in Annex I of the Decree on Environmental Law ('Bor')

The Activities Decree

The Activities Decree lays out environmental regulations for companies. Many of the rules of the Activities Decree are detailed in the Activities Regulations. The Activities Decree is applicable to all companies in the Netherlands unless they have little or no impact on the environment.

The Activities Decree has different rules for different types of companies. The Activities Decree distinguishes between companies types A, B and C. A company to wich the Activities Decree applies, is often obliged to make a notification when it starts up or makes changes. Sometimes it is possible to deviate from the rules of the Activities Decree with 'customised rules'.

OBM: The All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects limited environmental impact assessment

The All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects limited environmental impact assessment ('OBM') is an uncomplicated permit without rules.

Companies subject to the OBM are required to submit to an assessment, before the Activitis Decree is applicable. This assessment, for example, can focus on local nuisance (noise, odour, air quality) and effective management of waste materials.

Companies subject to the OBM are usually companies described as type B in the Activities Decree. Sometimes a type C company may also need an OBM in addition to the All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for the environmental aspect.

The All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects environment

Some activities that have relevant impact on the environment are too complicated to be covered by general rules, require an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for the environmental aspect.

You can find out which activities these are in Annex I of the Decree on Environmental Law (‘Bor’). This information is processed in the Activities Decree Internet Module (AIM). The AIM determines whether an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for the environmental aspect or an OBM is required.

Most companies do not need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for the environmental aspect. In 2016 an estimated 22,000 companies will have an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for the environmental aspect. This represents 5% of the companies that have relevant impact on the environment.

Companies that require an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for the environmental aspect are type C companies within the meaning of the Activities Decree.

Company types and environmental regulations

Company types and environmental regulations

The competent authority for companies

The competent authority for a company is the government body for that company, which:

  • ensures compliance with general rules and permit rules
  • may grant a permit
  • may prepare rules that deviate from the general rules

The Bor indicates which government body is the competent authority for companies. This government body may be authorised for:

  • the All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects Environment
  • the All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects limited environmental impact assessment (OBM)
  • the Activities Decree

Usually, the municipality is the competent authority. The province can only be the competent authority for certain complex industrial companies (such as IPPC companies) and closed landfills. For some special companies, a government minister may be the competent authority.

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