Working with the environment plan

This information is provided by:Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVONetherlands Enterprise Agency, RVOLast updated on Nederlandse versie

Do you want to start a shop, café, or other business? Or carry out work with your business that affects the surrounding area or the environment? The municipality's environment plan (omgevingsplan) determines whether you are allowed to carry out these plans. You will often have to apply for an environment and planning permit or make a notification.

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Environmental strategy and environment plan

The central government, all provinces, and all municipalities must draw up an environmental strategy (omgevingsvisie) by 1 January 2027. This environmental strategy sets out how they want to develop and protect their area. It is a long-term strategic vision for the entire physical living environment. The strategy describes the relationship between space, water, environment, nature, landscape, traffic and transport, infrastructure, and cultural heritage. The environmental strategy can be found in the Omgevingsloket. Each municipality makes an environment plan that is based on its environmental strategy. The environment plan contains the general rules on the municipality’s living environment.

Environment plan

Every municipality has 1 environment plan (omgevingsplan) that replaces, among other things, all zoning plans (bestemmingsplannen). In the environment plan, the municipality details the choices from the environmental vision. It describes which activities are allowed in a certain area. For example, housing, or hospitality.

The environment plan sets out the rules that apply to all activities that may affect the living environment. For example, whether you are allowed to start a business that may cause noise pollution in a residential area. The environment plan also states for which activities you need an environment and planning permit (omgevingsvergunning). And which rules you must follow to obtain such a permit.

What is in the environment plan?

The Environment and Planning Act (Omgevingswet) states that the municipality must bring together all rules on the living environment in 1 environment plan. As a result, the environment plan contains rules originating from different sources:

  • zoning plans
  • the General Municipal By-Law (Algemene Plaatstelijke Verordening, APV)
  • other by-laws, such as the site development by-law, or market by-law

The environment plan replaces all zoning plans, and the rules from all zoning plans are therefore included in the environment plan.

Some rules from by-laws (verordeningen) are also included in the environment plan. This depends on the situation. Does it concern activities that have an impact on the living environment? Then those rules must be included in the environment plan. Do the rules concern activities in the living environment, but do these activities not have an impact on the living environment? Then each municipality decides whether the rules are included in the environment plan.

The environment plan also contains the former government regulations. These rules deal with noise, for example.

Municipalities have until 2032 to transfer the rules on the physical living environment to the environment plan. So up to 2032, the place where you can find the applicable rules is different for each municipality.

Where to find the environment plan

You can find the environment plan via Rules on the map (Regels op de kaart, in Dutch) in the Omgevingsloket (in Dutch). You can search by address, or by drawing a location on the map. You can also find the zoning plans via Rules on the map. If the zoning plans are no longer listed here, this means that the municipality has already transferred the rules to the environment plan. So if you check Rules on the map, you can see which rules and policies apply to a specific location and look at future developments.

Permit check and environment and planning permit application

The municipality’s environment plan specifies for which activities you need a permit. And which rules you need to comply with to get the permit. Sometimes you only need to submit a notification. Do you want to know if you need a permit? Do the permit check in the Omgevingsloket (in Dutch). In the Omgevingsloket you can also apply for the permit.

The municipality (the competent authority) reviews the application and determines for your activity whether you:

  • do not need a permit
  • must make a notification
  • need a permit

You need a permit

An activity that falls within the scope of the environment plan and for which you need a permit is called a binnenplanse omgevingsplanacitiviteit, OPA.

An activity that is inconsistent with the environment plan is called a buitenplanse omgevingsplanactiviteit, BOPA. For such an activity, you must apply for a permit. The competent authority then decides whether the activity is allowed nonetheless, and whether you will receive a permit.

The application procedure for a permit usually takes 8 weeks. The application procedure for a BOPA takes up to 6 months.

Having the environment plan changed

Has your application for a BOPA been refused? Then you can ask the municipality to adapt the environment plan.

The procedure to change an environment plan takes up to 6 months.

Disagreeing with the environment plan

Do you disagree with the environment plan or a change to it? For example, because it has an impact on the accessibility of your company. Then you can express your opinion. You have 6 weeks to study the draft plan and give your opinion.

Claiming compensation for damage or loss as a result of an environment plan

Do you suffer damage or loss as a result of a government decision? For example, when your business is not accessible because of long-term construction works. Or when construction plans in your area reduce the value of your property. Then you may be entitled to compensation for damage or loss resulting from government acts (nadeelcompensatie, in Dutch). You can apply for this compensation to the municipality.

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