This afternoon, the Flemish Parliament agreed on a (supplementary) postponement for the implementation of the integrated environmental permit until 1 January 2018.
The Environmental Permit Decree initially stipulated that the new procedures would take effect one year after the date of the publication of the implementation decree in the Belgian Official Gazette, on 23 February 2017.
This initial implementation date was not met due to delays in the creation and implementation of the necessary software for the local authorities, after which the Flemish Parliament agreed on a new schedule for the implementation of the integrated environmental permit on 3 February 2017.
Flemish and provincial level: start on 23 February 2017
After the decree of 3 February 2017, the legislator decided to start with the integrated environmental permit on a Flemish and provincial level on 23 February for the following matters:
- The Flemish projects as well as the projects that cover two or more provinces
- The provincial projects and the projects that cover two or more municipalities
- Classified class 1 establishments or activities
- The reports and modifications that belong to the abovementioned projects
These applications also have to be submitted digitally through www.omgevingsloket.be, except in the municipalities with facilities.
The decree of 3 February 2017 also stipulates that environmental permits issued after 23 February 2017 already apply for an undetermined period, unless the municipality -in a limited number of cases- decides to grant a permit for a determined period.
Municipal level: start on 23 February, but postponement until 1 June 2017 is possible
The municipalities were presented the option to ask the Flemish Minister for Environment for postponement of the implementation until 1 June 2017 at the latest. Eventually, only the municipalities Dilsen-Stokkem, Herstappe, Langemark-Poelkapelle and Staden decided not to ask for a postponement. On 18 April, the municipality Beersel also made the change to the online environmental desk Omgevingsloket, and on 2 May the city Diest followed its lead.
In principle, in all other Flemish municipalities the integrated environmental permit would take effect on 1 June 2017.
Decree of 24 May 2017: supplementary postponement on municipal level until 1 January 2018
In the last few weeks, we received some clear signals that not all software would be completely ready to implement the environmental permit in the digital era on 1 June and to offer a high-performing and stable environmental desk to the citizens and the companies.
This afternoon, the Flemish Parliament therefore decided to freeze the current situation.
Applications, reports, requests or initiatives that are submitted or initiated between 1 June 2017 and 31 December 2017 will be handled in accordance with the procedural rules that were applicable on 22 February 2017.
In other words: if your new application does not concern a Flemish or provincial project, and has not been submitted in one of the previously mentioned municipalities that have not asked for a postponement, the old procedural rules for planning permits and environmental permits will be applied.
As of 1 January 2018 the stipulations mentioned in the renewed integrated environmental permit will take effect.
In short: what is an integrated environmental permit?
The decree of 25 April 2014 on the integrated environmental permit and its implementation decrees provide a new integrated procedure to obtain the required permission in order to conduct urban development related acts which require a permit (the previous planning permit or allotment permit) and/or to exploit a classified establishment (the previous environmental permit). The permission/permit for these acts is called the ‘integrated environmental permit’.