Corona crisis and your environmental permits in Flanders

Update

News

In our Coronablog, we already informed you that the Flemish Government has fixed the date of the civil emergency situation with respect to public health on 20 March 2020. 

 

1. The permit for the building and expansion of temporary hospitals

The derogation arrangement is valid for four months.

That means that, during this period of time, no permits or notifications are required for e.g. the building and expansion of temporary hospitals.

In addition, the Flemish Government was given the power to take measures in respect of several procedural dispositions, such as deadlines and authorization obligations.

These include the suspension of public enquiries, information meetings, hearings, but also the suspension of certain deadlines for taking decisions.  

On 24 March 2020, the Flemish Government decided on numerous measures.

The principle is that the deadlines for taking decisions with respect to current and new files will be extended, without blocking the authorities in the performance of their duties.

2. Decisions relating to deadlines for decisions on current and new cases

The authorities are encouraged to proceed as fast as possible in order to avoid uncertainty for the applicants, those who have lodged appeal and/or the citizens for too long and in order to avoid to make the economic standstill even worse.

These are the most important measures:

  • the ongoing public enquiries will be suspended on 24 March and will be continued on 24 April 2020;
  • public enquiries that are not yet launched, will be launched after 24 April 2020;
  • the deadline for decisions with respect to the simplified procedure is extended by 30 days (from 60 to 90 days);
  • the deadline for decisions in ordinary proceedings is extended by 60 days (from 105 or 120 days to 165 or 180 days);
  • the deadline for decisions in the appeal proceedings is extended by 60 days;
  • the period within which an appeal can be lodged is also extended by 30 days, from 30 to 60. This also means that the implementation of a permit issued by the municipality can only start after 65 days (35 + 30).

3. Decisions on procedural deadlines at the Council for Permit Disputes and the Enforcement Court

A Decree of the Flemish Government of 27 March 2020, which has immediate effect, lays down special rules for the procedural deadlines at the Council for Permit Disputes (hereinafter referred to as 'CPD') and the Enforcement College (hereinafter referred to as 'EC').

These are the main interventions:

  • The deadlines for current appealing procedures to the CPD and the EC on the date of entry into force of the Decree or those started after the date of entry into force of the Decree until 24 April 2020 are extended by 30 days;
  • The deadlines mentioned in the DBRC Decree and DBRC Procedural Decree which are current from the date of entry into force of the decree or which are introduced from the date of entry into force of the decree until 24 April 2020 are extended by 30 days, with the exception of the deadlines for extreme urgent suspension claims;
  • When dealing with suspension claims on grounds of extreme urgency, it will be possible for the CPD and the parties to the proceedings to use e-mail as a notification method from the date of entry into force of the decree until 24 April 2020, and a different audience regime will be provided for;
  • The Flemish Minister responsible for Justice may extend the end date, as well as the 30-day deadlines.

4. Emergency decree concerning urbanism, complex projects, the E.I.R. plan and the Current public consultation vacant and neglected business premises.

This Emergency Decree contains measures relating to extensions of deadlines and/or public participation procedures concerning:

  • spatial policy plans;
  • spatial implementation plans;
  • urbanistic regulations;
  • planning certificates;
  • complex projects;
  • plan environmental impact assessment;
  • vacant and neglected business premises;
  • provision of advice (committees, advisory councils and plenary / advisory meetings)

The developed measures aim to ensure the participation of citizens and stakeholders, to avoid the integral resumption of long planning processes and to facilitate the functioning of commissions.

Please find below the related list:

Spatial policy planning processes

Suspension and continuation after 24 April 2020 of ...

  • Current public consultation on the concept note for a spatial policy plan or policy framework;
  • Current public studies on a draft spatial policy plan or policy framework.

Spatial implementation plans (both integrated and 'ancient' procedure)

Suspension and continuation after 24 April 2020 of ...

  • Ongoing consultations on the starting note;
  • Ongoing public inquiries on draft SIP.

Measure: extension by 30 days of the decision period for final finding, whether or not after suspension.

Urbanistic regulation

  • Suspension and continuation after 24 April 2020 of pending public investigations on drafts of regulations;
  • Extension by 30 days of the deadline for making a final decision following a suspension.

Planning certificates

  • Suspension and continuation after 24 April 2020 of current public inquiries about applications for planning permission.

Complex projects

Suspension and continuation after 24 April 2020 of ...

  • Current consultations on alternative research papers;
  • Current public inquiries on draft Preferred Decisions, draft project decisions and draft E.I.R. plans;
  • Current inspection of final adopted preferred decisions and project decisions.

Plan environmental impact assessment

Suspension and continuation after 24 April 2020 of ...

  • Current public consultations on the fully declared notification of an E.I.R. plan;
  • Current public inquiries on a draft E.I.R. plan together with the draft plan or programme;

For all of the above mentioned procedures, reactions, comments and objections submitted during the period of suspension will be deemed admissible.

New public consultations, public enquiries, etc. can only be launched after 24 April 2020.

Vacant and neglected business premises

  • Suspension of current or incipient instalments following a reminder in the context of an appeal against inventory registration until 24 April 2020;
  • Suspension of current or incipient deadlines for ruling on a request for removal from the inventory until 24 April 2020;
  • Extension of the deadlines for applying for grants by 60 days.

Committees and advisory councils

  • Public authorities may decide, where appropriate, to hold plenary or advisory meetings to advise on the above plans and projects only in writing, by teleconference or by videoconference;
  • Chairpersons of the strategic advisory councils and of the spatial planning committees may decide where appropriate to hold meetings to advise on the above plans and projects only in writing, by teleconference or by videoconference.

Do not hesitate to contact us for additional information or assistance, +32 (0)2 747 40 07 or CoronaTaskforce@seeds.law.

Updated on 31 March 2020

Would you like to learn more about this subject?

Contact our experts or telephone +32 (0)2 747 40 07
Koen De Puydt

Koen De Puydt

Partner
Aline Heyrman

Aline Heyrman

Senior Counsel