Making your own arguments objection or appeal environmental permit: five pitfalls

Are you planning to make your own arguments for an objection or appeal against an environmental permit ? Suppose you have a yellow poster see in your neighbourhood. This means you can either objection or appeal against a project. Or you may be facing a refusal of your licence. You can also file an appeal against this. In this article, we discuss the pitfalls you should watch out for if you make your own arguments for an objection or appeal of an environmental permit.

Pitfall 1: You are not on time

The time limits for filing an appeal or an objection are very short. For example, for an objection, the deadline is 30 days. For an appeal to the province or the Flemish Government, this period is also 30 days. For an appeal to the Council for Permit Disputes, this period is 45 days.

Depending on the situation, different principles apply to calculate this term. It is important that you seek assistance in this. After all, if the appeal is not filed in time, it is inadmissible. This means that your views will not be examined and taken into account. Usually, this cannot be rectified.

Read more about the refusal of an environmental permit here.

Pitfall 2: You do not follow procedural requirements

Depending on the procedure you have to follow to challenge the (refusal of) an environmental permit, different steps apply. It is important that you follow these requirements correctly. Otherwise, your objection may be declared inadmissible. This too cannot usually be rectified. This again means that your arguments will be disregarded. Thus, they will not be taken into consideration. It may also deprive you of your right to appeal to the Council for Permit Disputes.

Here you will find more information on the course of the appeal procedure with the province.

Pitfall 3: You are not aware of the entire file

Often, on the Environment Counter, you will only see part of the application. After all, the Environment Counter only shows a limited selection of documents. There is little uniformity in this per permit application. After all, the authorities themselves decide which documents to put on the Environment counter. It is therefore always important to view the entire application.

It is best to have this done by someone with knowledge in the field. After all, this is the only way to get a complete picture of the project. Otherwise, you run the risk that your arguments for an objection or appeal against the single permit will be based on an incomplete file. Your views will then be easy to refute. There is also the chance that you may not be aware of elements that you would otherwise have wanted to object to.

Read more about filing an objection to an environmental permit here.

Pitfall 4: Your arguments are insufficiently developed

It is not enough to just send a letter opposing the (refusal of) the environmental permit. You will have to justify this on the basis of town planning regulations. The mere fact that, for example, the value of your property will decrease is not enough. Urban planning aspects include, for example:

  • environmental impact assessment;
  • compliance with other specific rules, for example on pavements;
  • The fit of the project in the good spatial planning.

Checking compliance with specific rules is not always straightforward. You will also always have to demonstrate that you are disadvantaged. In addition, you must always sufficiently elaborate on the fact that, in your opinion, the project (does not) fit in with good spatial planning. And do so on the basis of realistic and plausible elements. After all, otherwise you run the risk of your arguments being easily brushed aside. Or that you forget to mention certain elements. That is why it is again recommended that you seek assistance.

Pitfall 5: Your arguments were not made timely

On the basis of a recent decree change you are obliged to always set out your arguments as early as possible in the proceedings. After all, you must give the authority and the applicant for the permit the opportunity to take your arguments and/or situation into account. For example, by imposing conditions to your advantage or modifying the application.

The earlier you raise your arguments, the more they can be taken into account. If you do not raise your arguments in time, there is a chance that you will not be able to rely on them later in the proceedings. Or because the application has progressed too far for your views to be taken into account.

Read more about why it is important to make your arguments in time here.

Conclusion: make your own arguments for an objection environmental permit

Filing an appeal or objection against an environmental permit (or its refusal) yourself is not always straightforward. After all, specific requirements often apply. You will also have to ensure that you always present all your arguments in a timely and correct manner. It is therefore advisable to seek assistance when preparing an objection or an appeal. After all, the risk of your arguments being ignored is too great.

Was your permit denied or do you wish to oppose a project? If so, please feel free to contact with our environmental law lawyer. Confianz guides and assists you and this for projects all over Flanders.

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