The environmental, climate and energy law team
The environmental law subdivision of the environmental team mainly processes cases that touch upon the following specialist fields.
The waste legislation area is centred around the topic of ‘waste’, which is subject to environmental permits, and the interpretation of concepts such as ‘waste', ‘by-product’ and ‘end of waste’. In addition, the legal aspects of e.g. dump management and waste import, export and transit are part of the expertise of the firm.
Considerable practical experience has been collected over the years in the field of assistance with the transfer of land, very specifically in the field of the defence of the innocent owner status and/or in case of absence of a remediation obligation. If necessary, specific contractual clauses are drawn up on the occasion of transfer of land or possibilities are investigated to be able to proceed to an accelerated transfer. In addition, the firm also prepares BOFAS applications and provides assistance for brownfield projects and voluntary remediations. The project managers can also count on the scientific and practical experience of the firm for support. The firm furthermore assists contractors in earth moving operations and in negotiations in this respect with the Land Bank.
Environmental permit/Planning permit
Partially as a result of scientific research in the field of environmental permit legislation, the firm has specific expertise in anything to do with environmental permit applications, changes as to the environmental permit conditions, administrative appeal procedure, verification of conformity with the European IPPC- and IED-Directive and exemption of the environmental permit requirement through the system of integral environmental conditions. With the introduction of the term ‘environmental law’ in the Flemish Province, the firm stands at the cradle of the future planning permit. The firm also collaborated in defining specific permit regulations for complex projects.
Environmental impact assessement and safety reporting
In case of major projects, environmental permits are connected with environmental impact assessement and safety reporting. The firm has specific experience in supporting companies and projects in this field and performed several policy supporting studies on these impact assessment instruments at the instructions of the MER and VR departments.
The subject of tradable emission rights occupies a central position in the environmental compartment ‘air’.
Practical experience gained by the firm in several airport and hospitality sector cases is an added value for dealing with noise issues.
Integral water policy
Even before the integral water legislation was introduced (partly thanks to contributions from the firm), various water-related cases were dealt with. The concepts of ‘wastewater’ and ‘discharge’ play a central role in this field. As the firm handled a number of ‘crucial’ cases, considerable expertise was gained in the field of disconnecting wastewater and rainwater. Also important to mention is the know-how in the field of drawing up contracts for joint use of wastewater treatment plants. Last but not least, the firm was involved in a project for the development of specific water assessment guidelines (the so-called 'watertoets').
As the firm believes it is its ‘mission’ to address environmental problems within a wider social context, it gladly participates in socially relevant projects such as providing assistance with regard to compensation measures and supporting land owners and users in the field of area-specific environmental measures (e.g. FEN, SPAs and nature development projects). Hendrik Schoukens and Peter De Smedt are the authors of the leading reference work on nature conservation law. They also collaborate/collaborated on many legislation projects relating to this subject.
European and international environmental legislation
The firm’s daily attention to everything that is taking place in Europe and around the world appears from the fact that it permanently takes into account the European and international regulations in its everyday operation, examines these regulations for their direct impact and investigates the conformity of internal legislation with these regulations.
Liability for environmental damage and environmental insurances
Since the Flemish government has shifted the focus of its decree on soil pollution, a major dispute has arisen over the liability for this environmental damage. The aspect of environmental insurances is never far away in this context.
Environmental criminal law
A major part of the cases dealt with by the firm are related to the criminal enforcement of environmental law and the defence of the accused before correctional courts and courts of appeal. Since the reformation of environmental criminal law and the shift from criminal law enforcement to governance enforcement, defense relating to the LNE Department for Environmental enforcement, Environmental losses and Crisis management (AMMC) has emerged.
Numerous fiscal procedures with regard to e.g. the waste water tax, the vacancy tax and the manure tax are pending. The packaging tax was contested by the firm before the Belgian Constitutional Court. The firm collaborated on new regulations relating to a regulatory surface water levy with EPAS water surveyors.
The firm also has specific expertise in the field of agricultural environmental law, which is further maintained by handling cases which involve nutrient level, manure disposal and the obligation to process manure.
Through its activities in the sand and gravel extraction industry the firm has specific experience in the field of everything that has anything to do with surface minerals.
Climate and energy law
The firm has specific experience in the field of 'green energy'-projects (see the LDR-training course of 10 February 2011). In this context, please refer to the LDR training on the ‘deforestation’ of green energy permit applications’.
Environmental cease and desist claim
The firm was a privileged witness of the ‘rise’ of the environmental cease and desist claim, has been involved in numerous such claims and has examined diverse aspects of the claim also in the scientific field.
The firm assists several environmental coordinators with the performance of their decreed tasks.
Environmental due diligence
Because of its very extensive experience in each of the different sub areas of environmental legislation, the firm is in a perfect position to provide assistance for the takeover of companies within the scope of its specialization.