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Integrated Environmental Permitting

Hanna D. Tolsma

elni Review 2010, Issue 2,  pp. 81-87.

Citizens and businesses seeking a permit to carry out a certain activity are often confronted with a range of procedures containing a variety of different time limits, assessment criteria and legal remedies. The establishment of a new power station in the Netherlands, for example, requires a permit for construction, a permit for using or changing street access, a fire safety permit, an exemption from the land-use plan, a water permit and permits under the Dutch Environmental Management Act, the Dutch Flora and Fauna Act and the Dutch Nature Conservation Act. It is at present impossible for a person to obtain a quick and unambiguous answer from a public authority as to whether or not he may carry out a certain activity at a certain location.
Member States of the European Union such as Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands have undertaken initiatives to develop legal frameworks of integrated decision-making. Steps towards an integrated approach to the environment have also been taken at the European level. The majority of European environmental legislation still has a sector-specific nature. However, a change occurred with the IPPC Directive. The IPPC Directive requires a coordinated approach to the various emissions into the air, water and soil from industrial plants covered by the directive. In the near future the IPPC Directive will be replaced by the Directive on Industrial Emissions. The IPPC Directive prescribes a system of integrated environmental permitting.
In this article the legal instrument of integrated environmental permitting is analysed. It describes the concept of integration in the field of environmental law, discusses the integrated approach under the IPPC Directive and gives attention to the recent developments on integrated permitting in the Netherlands. Furthermore, this articles comments on substantive integrated environmental permitting and concludes with some final remarks.

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