Is filing an objection to an environmental permit useful? This is a question we get regularly. Especially when it appears that the local government supports the project. In this article, you will find 4 reasons to file an objection.
The video below is a summary of this blog created using artificial intelligence.
Reason 1: You can suggest alternatives yourself
You will often be told that there is no other location (anymore) for the project, the project cannot be designed differently, etc. However, alternatives are always possible. At the very least, there are ways to reduce the nuisance the project has for you to an acceptable level.
For example, it is useful to file an objection to an environmental permit against the extension of a school when it is also possible to plant the building elsewhere. Or you can file an objection against a fast-food restaurant because the drive-in can be organised differently. You can also propose to change the building plans in such a way that the neighbourhood is less inconvenienced.
Reason 2: The board is obliged to respond to your objection
The municipality is obliged to respond to your objection to an environmental permit. For example, the board must state why it thinks the building fits in or there will be no nuisance. The council may also consider imposing conditions based on your notice of objection. Or to refuse the environmental permit after all. So on the basis of an objection, we have already been able to obtain acceptable solutions in this way.
Please note: if you do not submit an objection to an environmental permit, the board will obviously not be able to take this into account. After all, silence is consent. If the board does not or not sufficiently respond to your objections, you can appeal.
Reason 3: On appeal, the application will be fully reviewed again
The board does not decide on its own. In most cases, an appeal will be possible to the province or the Flemish Government. The appeal body will again fully examine the application. There is therefore a chance that they may come to a different judgement and still refuse the permit or impose conditions. In doing so, the province or Flemish Government will also take into account the objections submitted earlier.
In this case, too, filing an environmental permit objection is therefore useful. After all, if you do nothing, the appeal can obviously not take this into account either.
Reason 4: You may lose the right to raise certain arguments before the Licensing Disputes Board
Based on a recent decree amendment, you are required to submit your objections in time. If you fail to do so, you may lose the right to apply to the Council for Permit Disputes on the basis of this objection. It will then no longer be possible to obtain the annulment of the licence on the basis of this objection.
So, in this case, failure to file an objection to an environmental permit can have serious consequences. After all, you lose the right to challenge the permit. You can then no longer turn to the courts. If the administration grants the permit anyway, there is nothing you can do about it. In this case, too, filing an objection to an environmental permit is therefore useful.
Pitfalls when filing an objection?
In practice, it is not easy to prepare a solid objection. For instance, you need to take into account short deadlines, procedural requirements and the acceptable arguments.
Do you have questions about filing an environmental permit objection or wish to oppose a particular 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.