The government is working hard to achieve its climate goals and has set new milestones to implement a carbon price floor, a climate agreement and the Climate Act. Further, in a landmark judgment, The Hague Appeal Court recently ordered the government to do more to combat climate change. The appeal court's judgment is unprecedented and may serve as a wake-up call for other governments worldwide.
The Dutch Safety Board has published a report on the role of the DCMR Environmental Protection Agency regarding the safety of Odfjell's Rotterdam tank storage terminal. Lack of proper supervision and enforcement by the agency could lead to it (and consequently the state) being convicted by the European Court of Human Rights for breaching the 'right to life' provision of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Who is responsible for compliance with environmental regulations when a company is declared bankrupt? Who is liable in these circumstances to pay penalties imposed by the competent environmental authority? The Council of State – the Netherlands' highest environmental court – recently got a rare opportunity to consider this issue. The court reaffirmed its existing case law, which comprises just two previous decisions.
After years of alleged environmental mismanagement at Odfjell's Rotterdam tank storage terminal, an inspection by the DCMR Environmental Protection Agency led to the temporary closure of the entire facility. Due to the public outrage following several disasters at similar facilities and a report on Odfjell's safety standards, all environmental management agencies have become more stringent in enforcing regulations.
The possibilities under Dutch law for punitive revocation of environmental permits have increased since the introduction of the Environmental Permitting (General Provisions) Act in October 2010. All permits, exemptions, dispensations and similar covered by the act can now be revoked as a penalty. The grounds for revocation from different laws have been unified to form one provision with a much broader scope
The minister of economic affairs, agriculture and innovation recently announced the 'green deals' that have been concluded. Through green deals, the Dutch government helps citizens, companies, organisations and other authorities with sustainability initiatives that would otherwise be difficult to implement.
The Council of State has issued five further decisions regarding RWE Power AG's construction of the Netherlands' largest coal-fired (and biomass) power plant. Among other things, the decisions annul a permit based on the Nature Conservation Act 1998 that had been granted to RWE and dismiss a request from Greenpeace and the Society for Nature and Environment for enforcement measures against RWE.
A question mark hangs over completion of the construction of the Netherlands' largest coal-fired (and biomass) power plant following two recent rulings of the Council of State. Three administrative decisions are relevant: two separate permits based on the Nature Conservation Act 1998 and a routing decision based on the Routing Act.
Fires can prove enlightening when it comes to the development of case law with regard to environmental liabilities. A recent appeal court ruling on a case involving a fire represents a stark departure from Supreme Court precedent. The question arose as to whether the municipality of Rotterdam had discretionary power in its role of supervising and enforcing environmental permits and the Fire Services Act.
In January 2011 a fire destroyed Chemie-Pack, a packer, filler and labeller of hazardous chemicals, and two neighbouring companies. So far the company has refused to make available its insurance policy in order to know whether there is adequate coverage for the €11 million to €16 million that has been spent in order to remediate the water and soil, and the company itself has refused to remediate or pay the remediation costs.
Thirty years after the discovery of the Lekkerkerk toxic waste dump, the remediation of contaminated sites in the Netherlands is still a serious source of concern for the authorities. Recently, delegates of the authorities involved concluded the Covenant on Soil Development Policy and Strategy for Urgent Sites, which aims to remediate most of the 20,000 urgent sites before 2015 with a budget of €893 million.
The thresholds in the Environmental Impact Assessment Decree 1994 should not be treated as absolute boundaries. Even when a particular project remains under the applicable thresholds, an environmental impact assessment may be required. This follows recent rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The new Water Act recently entered into force, amalgamating all prior acts on water management. The new act relates to, among other things, the quality and quantity of sea water, surface water and ground water, the quality and maintenance of dykes and other retaining structures and licensing for activities such as discharging substances into water.
It is expected that the new Environmental Permitting (General Provisions) Act will enter into force in 2010. The act will unify all permit procedures for which the minister of environment is responsible. It will also encompass several other permits for which the culture and nature ministers are responsible.
In an unexpected and fundamental decision, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State ruled that a large group of producers and importers of packaging in the Netherlands - united under the Foundation Nedvang - did not comply with the rules laid down in the Paper and Cardboard Packaging Decree.
As of June 1 2008, the Netherlands has fully implemented the EU Environmental Liability Directive with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage, in the form of the Environmental Management Act. The act does not go beyond the directive's provisions, in line with the general Dutch policy of restricting implementing legislation to the bare minimum.
The EU Biofuels Directive requires that a minimum percentage of biofuels be sold on the markets of EU member states. In order to comply with the directive, Dutch suppliers of petrol and diesel will have to blend their products with 2% of biofuels, based on the energy value of the total amount of sales in the Dutch market on December 31 2005. This percentage must be increased to 5.75% by December 31 2010.
The new Regulation for the Remediation of Industrial Sites requires the owners and ground-lease holders of polluted industrial sites to clean up the site if the pollution is considered to be serious and urgent rectification is necessary. However, in certain circumstances financial compensation may be obtained to help meet the costs of remediation.
It appears that after having been put under pressure by both the European Court of Justice and the European Commission in 2000, the Netherlands is on its way to implementing the long-neglected Birds Directive (1979) and the Habitat Directive (1992).
A proposed amendment to the Environmental Management Act should bring Dutch legislation into line with the EU Directive on Waste. Proposed changes include a more rigorous definition of the term 'waste' and an increase in the scale of waste management policy.