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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