News The Decree of the Walloon Parliament of 23 June 2016 introduces various changes to the environmental legislation in Wallonia.

In this brief contribution, we approach two points of the Environmental Code that have been changed and that could directly interest companies established in Wallonia.

1. Environmental liability

The list of professional activities that could cause damage to the environment likely to engage the environmental liability has been completed. The purpose was to ensure the conformity of the Walloon Code of Environment to the Directive 2004/35/EC on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage and to the Regulation 1013/2006 on shipments of waste.

As a reminder, this directive recognizes the “polluter pays” principle and concerns the environmental damage as well as the imminent threats of such damage when a causal link between the damage and a professional activity is established.

To the list of the professional activities enumerated in the appendix 1 of the Walloon Code of Environment, the Decree of 23 June 2016 adds from now on:

  • The waste management operations (especially the collection, the transportation, the repurposing and the elimination of waste and dangerous waste, including the surveillance of these operations and the further processing of waste disposal sites) subject to an environmental permit, a registration or an authorisation;
  • Any deliberate release into the environment or transport of genetically modified organisms as defined by the regulations on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms or products containing them.

2.  The impact studies

The procedure of impact assessment implemented for projects subject to a permit (environmental permit, single permit, subdivision and planning permit) has undergone some adaptations.

Henceforth, the author of the project must choose one or more authorised person(s) to conduct the study and immediately notify this choice to the persons and authorities designated by the government. The latter will check if the authorised chosen person(s) have the required certification considering the nature of the project.

The government must determine the procedure and the methods regarding the notification of the choice of the authorised person(s). It must also determine the cases where, for the conduct of a study, an authorised person can be rejected. It must finally settle on the procedure and the methods of the rejection.

Besides, a new cause of nullity of the permit has been added to Article D.63 of the Environmental Code: the nullity must in any case be pronounced by the competent authority on appeal or by the administrative judge when the persons in charge of the impact study on the environment have been the subject of a final decision of rejection.

3.  Conclusion

The new decree of the Walloon Parliament has not the ambition to revolutionise the environmental legislation in Wallonia but proceed through small adjustments and one-off adaptations of the existing rules. 

Therefore the companies, established in the Walloon Region, must check if these modifications affect their activities or their future projects.

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Alain De Jonge

Alain De Jonge