New rules on environmental permits in the Brussels-Capital Region: what’s changed?

A garage, a chip shop, a dry cleaner, a high-voltage cabin, etc.; many activities and installations have a polluting impact on the environment. This requires an environmental permit. A new regulation came into force on 20 April 2019, which already partially modified the rules for environmental permits in the municipalities of Brussels. Several new items have been added since 1 September 2019.

We list the four most important changes below. 

1. New list of classified establishments

Installations and activities with a harmful impact on the environment and public health, e.g. a garage workshop, carpentry shop, or car park, are included in a list of nuisance-causing activities. This list includes over 200 appliances and activities, divided into five classes, ranging from a low to a significant potential environmental impact. This classification determines whether or not your machine or activity requires a permit.

This list has been updated since 1 September. Some establishments were placed in a new class or are now subject to other standards, for example the maximum permitted volume or power for which no permit is required.

Consult the new list to see if you need to apply for a permit for your machine or activity.

2. Modified application procedure

Until recently, it was sufficient to submit your permit application to the Leefmilieu Brussel (Brussels Environment) department. From now on, you must submit your application to:

  • Brussel Stedenbouw en Erfgoed (Brussels Urbanism and Heritage): for projects that require building and environmental extraction – also known as ‘mixed projects’;
  • Leefmilieu Brussel (Brussels Environment): for unmixed projects of class 1A, 1B, 1C, or 1D;
  • The commune or Brussels Environment: for class 2 projects and class 3 declarations.

The application no longer has to be made by registered letter, although this is, of course, proof of dispatch. Send your application by regular post or by electronic means to the competent authority.

3. Environmental permit valid for shorter period

In the past, you had to apply for a new permit after 30 years. The new legislation shortens the period of validity to 15 years. The term goes into effect:

  • from the start or start-up of the activity or installation, provided that you have informed the permit authority 15 days before that date;
  • from the date of issue of the permit, if you did not inform the permit authority of the start date or did not do so in good time.

Once you have been issued the environmental permit, you can easily extend the term by another 15 years. Submit an application within two years before the end of the current environmental permit.

4. Project implementation period extended

You must apply for the environmental permit before your project starts. Once you have obtained the permit, you now have three years – instead of two – for the development, construction, design, etc. of your project.

Want to know more?

Consult the Leefmilieu Brussel website. You can read all about the new legislation in their practical guide to environmental permits. You will also find informative videos and guidance on going through the administrative procedure.

Would you like to know whether the amended legislation has an impact on your company or organisation?  Our environmental specialists use the ‘Quickscan environmental permits’ to check if your environmental permit complies with the new legislation.


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