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Doing business in the Netherlands: Environmental rules

12 March 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 24 February 2016

Dutch businesses must comply with specific environmental regulations, which are based on the Environmental Management Act and incorporated within general environmental rules such as the Environmental Activities Decree or environmental licensing.


Legal requirements

Environmental Management Act

Dutch environmental legislation

Guide to legislation

Environmental management

The Environmental Management Act is the centrepiece of eco-legislation and determines what (legal) tools can be deployed to protect the environment. The main instruments are environmental plans and programmes as well as requirements on environmental quality, licensing, general rules and enforcement. The same Act also contains rules on levies, contributions and compensation.

Environmental Management Act

Spatial planning

The Dutch government, provinces and local districts establish management plans to shape the Netherlands now and in the future. The Spatial Planning Act regulates how these plans are produced and amended.

Spatial Planning & Infrastructure

Hazardous substances

Certain substances can be harmful to humans or the environment, because they are explosive, toxic or carcinogenic, for example. People who work with these substances must protect themselves and others against these risks. Special rules therefore apply to organisations that use, transport or store hazardous substances. There are also rules designed to protect employees from hazardous substances like asbestos and acids.

Hazardous substances

Drinking water

Drinking water in the Netherlands meets all the legal quality standards. Drinking water companies monitor the water to ensure that it is clean and safe to drink. The government has measures in place to preserve drinking water quality and to ensure that there is always enough good quality drinking water available.

Drinking water quality

Climate change

Scientists consider the continued increasing concentrations of CO2 emissions as the main cause of climate change. Through this process, the temperature rises, and as a result, the sea level rises as well. In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions, the Dutch government takes mitigation and adaptation measures and cooperates with non-state actors. Besides, the Netherlands is committed to tackling climate issues on a global scale and actively participates in international negotiations and agreements.

Climate change

Climate change

Noise nuisance

Not only can loud, persistent or unwanted noise be annoying, it can also cause health problems such as insomnia. That is why the government lays down noise standards for road, rail and air traffic and for industry. New noise-reducing measures such as low-noise asphalt and rail dampers can help. Municipalities set their own rules on noise caused by neighbours, events and bars or restaurants.

Noise nuisance

Administrative procedures

Permits and licences

You do not have to notify your local authority if your business is non-polluting - this applies, for example, to schools and offices.

If your business does pollute, but only minimally, you need to submit an environmental notification to the local authority.

In other, more complex cases, you require an environmental permit from the local or provincial authority.

What is an environmental permit?

Environmental permit and notification of environmental policy

Environmental report and business plan

Large industrial businesses are obliged to produce an annual environmental report (MJV) describing the impact of their activities on the environment, and to submit this electronically to the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM).

Annual environmental report

Annual environmental reports and/or PRTR reports covering the previous 12 months must be submitted by no later than 31 March each year. This is possible using the electronic annual environmental report (e-MJV), released in the first week of January.

Help with the annual environmental report

Electronic annual environmental report

Once every four years, businesses with a specified number of branches are obliged to produce an environmental business plan (BMP). In such cases, the annual environmental report will also contain a progress report on BMP implementation.

Environmental business plan

Most businesses compiling a MJV must also submit an electronic 'PRTR report' for the European Pollutant Release Transfer Register. Some businesses need only submit a PRTR report (without an annual environmental report).

European Pollutant Release Transfer Register (E-PRTR)


The Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) provides information on environmental legislation.


InfoMil provides a legislative guide to the relevant environmental laws and regulations for licensing authorities and businesses.


You can find information from the Dutch government on the website.



There are various environmental subsidies for businesses. For more information about these, click on the link below:

Subsidy arrangements

Source: European Commission

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