Take care with the project-mer screening in a permit application

For certain real estate projects, you are required to prepare a project-mer screening. In this, you must justify that your project will not have significant effects on the environment. A recent ruling by the Council of State confirms the importance of a properly prepared project mer-screening. Especially in the admissibility and completeness screening, this plays an important role. Current article explains this further.

What is a project-mer screening?

In a project-mer screening, you must indicate whether or not your project will have significant effects on the environment. This is assessed during the admissibility and completeness screening. If the board rules that there are such effects, it will declare your application inadmissible. This means that the board will not process your request any further.

A general guide to preparing a project-mer screening can be found here.

In this case, you will have to submit a new application. To this, you will have to attach a full environmental impact report (EIR). You can also ask for an exemption from this requirement. In both cases, however, this will involve additional costs.

Find more information on the procedure when applying for an environmental permit here.

When should you prepare a project-mer screening?

The types of projects for which you need to draw this up are defined by law. Generally, this only applies to projects that reach a certain size, although the law does not set any specific thresholds. The obligation to draw up a project mer screening should therefore be interpreted broadly. Case law also interprets this obligation broadly.

A full list of projects requiring project-mer screening can be found here.

For example, one of the most common types of projects requiring project-mer screening are urban development projects. These include not only the development of multiple residential units. The development of a place of worship, a crèche or a rest and care home also fall under this heading. This is provided that they reach a certain size, but without any specific thresholds in the legislation for this purpose.

Why is a well-formatted project-mer screening important?

In a recent judgment, the Council of State ruled that it is no longer possible to add such a project-mer screening on appeal. It is therefore important that this already from the beginning in the application file zit. It is also important that this project-mer screening is sufficiently elaborated. After all, case law also does not allow you to add to it in degree of appeal.

Read the full judgment of the Council of State here.

Is there no project-mer screening on file or is it insufficiently elaborated? Then you run the risk that if a neighbour appeals, the province will be obliged to refuse the permit. In this case, you will have to start again from scratch. You will have to go through the entire application procedure all over again. Not only does this involve considerable loss of time, but also additional costs.

Did you questions On whether you should add a project-mer screening to your application or on how to format them? Then do not hesitate to contact us. Confianz will guide and assist you with all your permit applications and this all over Flanders.

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