This year's first big change in the field of environmental
law has already taken place: the Nature Conservation Act (Wet natuurbescherming), the Nature
Conservation Decree (Besluit natuurbescherming) and the Nature
Conservation Regulation (Regeling natuurbescherming) all came into
force on 1 January 2017. This legislation replaces the previous
legal framework for nature conservation, which consisted of
multiple laws. The aims are to simplify the law by consolidating
everything into one piece of legislation, and to closely follow
European regulations. The implementation of the Nature Conservation
Act is largely in the hands of the provinces.
The new Environment and Planning Act (Omgevingswet) is
another legislative project that will still be under development
throughout 2017. This law provides for a whole new system of
environmental law. We have already written several In context
articles on the changes that this law and associated secondary
legislation will bring about; these articles can be found here, here and here. On 3 November 2016, the Minister of
Infrastructure and Environment wrote a
letter to the Second Chamber (of the Dutch Parliament)
outlining the plans for the Environmental and Planning Act. The law
is intended to enter into force in mid-2019.
Finally, it will be interesting to see what happens with the
private member's bill on open government
(initiatiefswetsvoorstel open overhead), which was to
replace the current Government Information (Public Access) Act
(Wet openbaarheid van bestuur). One proposed change that
may be important in practice is the significant extension of the
scope of the public access regime. Under the private member's
bill on open government, private legal entities can be designated
when they, for example, perform a public duty or have public
shareholders. We have already discussed the changes arising from
this legislative proposal in this In context article. The legislative proposal
has been adopted by the Second Chamber. However, recent research
shows that the law is impracticable and will lead to high
additional costs. The implications of these limitations for the
fate of the legislative proposal are still unknown.
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According to article 73 of the Federal Constitution ("BV"), the Confederation and the Cantons shall endeavour to achieve a balanced and sustainable relationship between nature and its capacity to renew itself and the demands placed on it by the population.
The consequences of Brexit for the environment and environmental laws barely featured in pre-referendum campaigning.
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