Industry and the Environment and Planning Act: one of the many transitions
Imagine this: you're trying to maintain your production levels, you've experienced a pandemic, and for a long time you've been aiming to incorporate sustainability as a structural part of the business operations.
On top of that, there's the energy transition and CO2 reduction, and you need to consider the water system, climate, climate adaptation and biodiversity. There's a nitrogen crisis, raw materials are becoming scarcer, and good technical employees are hard to recruit. The local community is being more assertive, and shareholders are interfering. And then there's the Environment and Planning Act.
More duty of care
This Act involves big shifts in the environment and planning law. A seismic shift for government authorities perhaps, but for industry, just one of the many transitions it is facing. ‘We do what we always do. When the time comes, we just get on with it. And if necessary, we call on expert consultants and solicitors. Because we obviously have more than enough on our hands.'
It's not strange to enter this competition like this. Industry has managed previous changes in regulations like Wabo, BAT and Rie well too. Yes, there will be discussions with the environment department, but together we'll get there. In terms of content, there's a tendency towards more general rules, more duty of care and less permit obligation. The rules from Europe will remain in force and will be integrated in the new legislation. Producing safely and responsibly, preventing emissions and limiting waste. If we can do that, we'll be well on our way.
Is so little really changing for industry? In terms of content, we don't feel much is changing. Industry always needed to act in an integrated and coordinated way. Now the government needs to do the same: one counter. Obviously, there will be a transition period when things will be strange for everyone. But with a bit of understanding, Witteveen+Bos expects that everything will work out when it comes to granting permits.
However, the Environment and Planning Act also offers the option, and sometimes the obligation, to set local limits to environmental aspects like odour and noise. Standards are not just included in the permit; soon they will be in the local environment plan too (the current zoning plan). The local environment plan is based on what the government knows about the company. So, it's important that the space that your business needs now and in the future is defined in the permit and later in the local environment plan. Otherwise, local bottlenecks about noise or odour may arise.
Local politicians can have an opinion and the neighbours can participate. Something to be aware of in the industry. Because stability in the local community is very important. As a company, you can participate too. That offers opportunities and possibilities to prevent unpleasant surprises. Participation will also be part of the permit process. This must be applied, but the form has not yet been established.
Other topics can also be included in the local environment plan, such as health, nature and the energy transition. How that influences business operations in practice remains to be seen. It's also good to realise that the Environment and Planning Act is intended to enable and facilitate all kinds of transitions. The Act is not just one of a series of changes, but one that can help make other transitions possible. Together, let's all take advantage of that possibility!