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Environmental regulations in Flanders

If you are setting up a business in Flanders, you will need to first have the permits necessary to remain compliant with environmental law. This is the responsibility of the Belgian Federal Government, along with each regional government.

Here’s an overview of the main types of environmental permits and regulations in Flanders.

Environmental permits

  • Category I: includes truly hazardous activities, involves an investigation and must be obtained from the provincial authorities.
  • Category II: includes activities that are deemed less harmful, such as abattoirs and storage facilities for volatile liquids; must be obtained before operations begin.
  • Category III: includes activities with limited effects on the environment, such as storage for textile goods and less volatile liquids; only requires the notification of municipal authorities of the site of operations.

Building permits

Virtually every construction, reconstruction, demolition and renovation related to buildings requires a building permit – including parking lots, changing the function of a building or cutting down trees. Requests are submitted to the municipality first.

Minor changes to buildings are usually exempt. Note: if an environmental permit is also required for a business activity, one permit will not be valid without the other.

Soil restoration

The goals of the Decree on soil remediation and soil protection of 27 October 2006 are to prevent new pollution and correct historical soil pollution. There are three categories of soil pollution: new, historical and mixed.

A graduated system is used to decide who is responsible for cleaning the soil.

Packaging waste

Certain percentages of packaging waste are required by Belgian law to be recycled and recovered. Companies can either take back and recycle/recover its packaging or delegate the task to accredited organizations. If a company fails to meet recovery requirements, it can be punished by law.

More information about packaging waste can be found at www.ivcie.be and www.ovam.be. Accredited organizations for recovery worth visiting: www.fostplus.be and www.valipac.be

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