The Unique Surroundings Permit
nearly into force

In an earlier contribution to our website, we informed you already of the fundamentals of the draft decree on the unique Surroundings Permit in Flanders.

This decree was adopted in April 2014 and published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 23 October 2014.

On 19 December 2014, the Flemish government approved a preliminary draft of a collective decree on the environment, nature and agriculture that among others contains some amendment provisions of the surroundings permit decree and the draft decree implementing the surroundings permit decree, resuming the decree of April 2014 and further adding the missing chapters.

We resume briefly the fundamentals of the decree on the unique surroundings permit.

The unique surroundings permit includes the building permit and the environmental permit into one permit for an indefinite period. Entrepreneurs who want to start industrial or artisanal activities, will obtain a single surroundings permit on the basis of a single application, a single public inquiry, and only one consultation procedure, authorizing them both to perform the urban development (e.g. construction of a building, renovation, etc…) and to operate the business. One procedure will therefore be sufficient to obtain a surroundings permit.

Procedures have been simplified, renewed and digitized. This leaves two authorization procedures, a single authorization procedure (with a public inquiry) and a simplified authorization procedure (without public inquiry) and finally a notification procedure for projects where only a notification is mandatory. The time-to-permit will therefore be much shorter.

In addition, the permit will be granted for an indefinite period, provided that the classified operations are subject to ad hoc assessments. It will no longer be necessary to introduce every 20 years a new application for a surroundings permit, which results in cost and time savings, and also legal security.

Finally, note the introduction of the administrative loop that will regularize the irregularities in the procedure, and the possibility of prior consultation between the applicant and the permit granting authority before the start of the procedure to obtain the permit. This will also result in a saving of time and cost.

The further development and implementation of this important decree will be followed-up, and reports will be published.

19 January 2015