“Environment and land use law is presented as more space for the initiator,” says Sorgdrager. “And then people always talk about someone who wants to build a skylight. (…) But it’s not about the big parties who will soon be able to do what they want. This is why, like Van Aartsen, she advocates the elimination of the introduction of the law on the environment and planning on January 1 of next year (approved by the Senate last March).
The two ex-ministers with substantial CVs in the field of the environment were part of the VTH committee in 2021. In 2021, it published an alarming report on the authorization, monitoring and enforcement system: it was too evasive and fragmented. Two years later, Van Aartsen and Sorgdrager say in a long interview with the Ministry of the Interior that the environmental services are taking up their duties more decisively. But also that a complication will arise from next year: the law on the environment.
Sorgdrager: “I’m not a big fan of environmental law.”
Van Aartsen, softly: “Me neither.
Sorgdrager: ‘First. From a legal point of view, it is a solution to an apparent problem. Whether there will soon be one counter for the initiator or several – behind the counters, the same work must be done by the municipalities. Second. The Environment Act leaves a great deal of leeway to the municipalities on certain points. I’m afraid that over time the great initiators will have everything to say.
Yes, there are European standards, Sorgrager fits, but not in everything. It can cause a lot of problems. Of course, an initiator must organize participation. But I do not see that this is always done in the right direction, so that local residents also have their say. I’m afraid they’re only getting information about what’s going to happen. And it is also difficult for the municipalities. They have put all their capacity in the VTH field at the service of the environment. He would like to give advice, but what weight does this advice have? No, I see a lot of problems with the Environment Act. Not to mention the failing technology of the digital system.
Van Aartsen: “I totally agree with that. I’m more than concerned about that. I suspect a firm will get stuck there at some point. I think I was the only one in the Netherlands to read the explanatory memorandum. I read the whole law and talked to a few people about it. They all said: it is a monster of law.
Sorgdrager: “It is indeed a monstrosity in terms of regulations. It is also not surprising that the Council of State has sounded the alarm on this subject. Open standards are disasters for an administrative judge.
Van Aartsen: “The Environment and Spatial Planning Act is based on a philosophy from several years ago, based on the idea of decentralization and more opportunities for citizens. While we know now how many dangers this philosophy holds I am surprised at how lightly the environmental and land use planning law is suddenly introduced on January 1. This means a lot of extra work for the environmental services, so that they also have a much more important task: to prepare a new phase of the HUD system.
Do not do that
Sorgdrager: “My advice on environmental law and land use planning is: don’t do it. Now it is still possible.
Van Aartsen: “Exactly”.
Read the full Van Aartsen and Sorgdager interview this week on BB10 (connection).
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