Companies must comply with a whole package of environmental regulations in order to prevent environmental nuisance for the surrounding area as much as possible. Anyone who fails to comply with these rules may face enforcement action by the municipality or the police. In the past, almost every business needed an environmental licence. Nowadays, more than 80% of all companies are subject to generally applicable uniform rules as included in the Activities Decree on Environmental Management.
For those companies, it is no longer necessary to apply for an environmental permit, but there is a notification requirement or a procedure link with an environmental permit for building a business. Large companies or companies with a significant nuisance risk for the surrounding area still need to apply for a permit with customised regulations. In that case, it is important that the regulations are well aligned with the (desired) business processes and European environmental law, such as the current Industrial Emissions Directive (RIE).
Environmental nuisance includes all forms of nuisance that can affect the existing quality of the living environment (the environment and nature) around a company or the location of an event. The most common forms of nuisance are noise and vibration nuisance, light nuisance, odour nuisance, parking nuisance, traffic movements attracted by the company, water and soil pollution and air pollution.
Many of the nuisances caused by companies that clients ask us to help them with can be traced back to the question of whether the environmental regulations applicable to companies have been complied with. Environmental law works with limit values and duties of care that are included in environmental regulations. Some degree of nuisance must be tolerated by local residents. This is the degree of nuisance insofar as limit values are not exceeded. Whether limit values have been exceeded must often be determined with the help of technical experts employed by the municipality or hired by local residents themselves.
Depending on the situation, HABITAT first contacts the company to see whether something can be resolved mutually. If this is not possible, cooperation is sought with the municipality and, if necessary, the police or the environmental prosecutor at the Public Prosecutor's Office. HABITAT sends technical experts and submits a technically and legally substantiated enforcement request to the municipality, helps to draw up a criminal report or can summon the company in a civil procedure.
In an administrative law approach, an official decision must be taken by the competent authority on the enforcement request. After that, an objection and (appeal) procedure is open. If the government actually enforces the enforcement request, the company will receive a penalty payment decision. In this procedure, too, you will be an interested party and you can join the proceedings if the company disagrees with the penalty payment decision.
For simple situations, you can use our website to prepare and submit an administrative law enforcement request yourself. See here for the model enforcement request.
The subject of environmental nuisance is also an important issue when adopting a zoning plan or deviating from a zoning plan in order to make a building plan for a business or change of use of a building or site possible.
In such cases, HABITAT litigates about the question whether there is a good spatial planning. In other words, is it wise, in order to prevent nuisance as much as possible, to allow a certain activity at a certain location, while there are houses in the immediate vicinity that could be affected by the activity? Even if limit values in environmental regulations can be met. An example of such a situation is a catering establishment with an outdoor terrace. The sound of voices on the outdoor terrace does not have to exceed the noise limit values, but can still cause nuisance to surrounding residences.