RUD: ‘Additional costs for environmental law do not come out of the blue’

The government always says that the transition to the new environmental law can be introduced budget-neutral (for the same money as now, ed.). But according to Heidekamp and Meijer, that is not true. “It should lead to savings for municipalities, because they no longer have to do certain things themselves. But it is just known that the payback period is 35 years, so nothing budget neutral,” says Heidekamp.

Is this the same trick that the government has pulled by transferring other tasks – such as youth care – to lower authorities? Heidekamp and Meijer think so. “Municipalities are therefore not compensated extra and are heading for a financial disaster year in 2026 when they receive less money. And then you suddenly see the discussion no longer about the content, but about the money. And then I understand those municipal councils.”

One thing is crystal clear: if municipalities had to do the work that the RUD does themselves again, it would be much more expensive and they would have to hire a lot of knowledge and helping hands that the environmental service does not yet have.

The environmental law, which has been plagued by delays for years, is a collection of environmental laws and regulations. Everything is arranged in the new law for the space in which we live and work, and it should be made simpler for companies and residents. But for regional environmental services such as the RUD, things are becoming more complex, Heidekamp explains. “Fewer permits will be issued. But the permits that do remain are complex. Fewer permits also mean more reports: company X wants to do activity Y and then does so with a report. But those reports must be checked whether they are indeed notifications, otherwise it will only result in extra work.”

“Moreover, the work has to be done in a shorter period of time,” Meijer continues. If several complicated permit applications come in at the same time, we have to process them within eight weeks. There is therefore no longer any possibility to absorb peaks and troughs in permit applications. There is no longer any shuffling with the specialists you have.” The RUD director does not yet know how many permits and notifications will ultimately be received. “If you can take 26 weeks, there will be more time for research and sparring”, adds Meijer.