Central role in Flemish environmental policy
The Environment, Nature and Energy Department (LNE) is the environmental administration of the government of Flanders. It is in charge of preparing, following up and evaluating the Flemish environmental policy. The structure of our department allows us to efficiently tackle all aspects of this multi-faceted task.
The Department holds a key position within the environment, nature and energy policy area. It prepares and/or hold the presidency of the Policy Council, the Management Committees and the different task forces on which the agencies (OVAM, VMM, VLM, ANB, VREG, INBO) also have a seat. It monitors the budget and personnel policy of the entire policy area, and tries to harmonise the actions as much as possible.
The Department also participates in large-scale projects of the Flemish Government with regard to agriculture, economy and town and country planning, for instance, or by coordinating them.
Policy areas and tasks
Air pollution is a cross-border issues that requires an international approach, which the Environment, Nature and Energy Department is actively participating in. In this context, Flanders is developing measures for a large number of target groups and sectors. Moreover, we support local authorities, and raise people’s awareness of numerous environmental issues.
The department makes sure that Flanders complies with the international agreements and reduction objectives for global environmental issues. On the one hand it plays a coordinating role in the Flemish climate policy that requires extensive efforts from many policy areas and several sectors. In addition, the Department adopts a source-oriented approach to the emission of non-CO2 greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting emissions through action programmes, legislation, sector agreements, awareness-raising campaigns, long-term planning and education.
Environmental nuisance is a problem which mainly manifests itself at the local level, and which many citizens are thus directly confronted with. The most common environmental complaints in Flanders relate to noise and odour nuisance, mainly caused by traffic, industrial activities, pets, and activities of neighbours and the agricultural sector (as far as odour nuisance is concerned). Light, non-ionising radiation, smoke and dust also cause environmental nuisance.We record the nuisance by coordinating the registration of environmental complaints. We prepare action programmes for the abatement of noise nuisance from airports, road traffic, railway traffic and industry, as well as protect the few quiet areas Flanders still has today.
A fourth important environmental issue is the negative impact of environmental disturbance on human health. In this respect we seek to attain a level which no longer poses any detriment to people’s health, including that of vulnerable groups, such as the poor, the elderly and children. However, there is still great uncertainty on the impact of environmental pollution on human health. That is why the main goals of the LNE Department are to promote knowledge building in Flanders, and to help disseminate this knowledge.
We coordinate the drafting and implementation of the Flemish environmental policy plan and the annual environmental programmes. The environmental policy plan determines the main lines of the environmental policy to be pursued by the Flemish Region and the provinces and municipalities in matters of regional importance. The aim of the plan is to foster the effectiveness, efficiency and internal coherence of environmental policy at every level and in every field. Moreover, it provides a framework for cooperation with other policy areas and administrations. The plan also clearly explains to citizens, companies and organisations what they can expect during the planning period.
We also organise the programming of scientific research within the policy area.
Legal instruments play a very important – and probably the best well-known - role in environmental policy, the central focus being on environmental licences, accreditations and penal and administrative enforcement. In this respect our department guarantees an integrated and qualitative approach.
In terms of safety reporting, we are in charge of coordinating and implementing the aspect of “major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances” in the Flemish environmental policy. Through a high degree of specialisation we provide the expertise which other services can rely on. We have one particular goal in mind: to bring the level of industrial safety in Flanders to a high standard, and to promote it on a permanent basis in order to protect man and the environment against the risk of the accidental release of hazardous substances.
Environmental impact reporting is a legal-administrative procedure during which the environmental effects of an activity or intervention are studied, discussed and evaluated in advance in a scientifically justified manner. The basic principle is that it is better to adjust environmentally harmful activities (plans and projects) at an early stage in the decision-making process.
We are also responsible for the sustainable management of the soil and subsoil, with special focus on erosion control. Soil and subsoil are closely interrelated, and require the development of specific knowledge and expertise. Our services aim to optimally cooperate and integrate with the numerous actors involved.
Furthermore, the department promotes policy initiatives through a specific target-group policy; we are in charge of nature and environment education and ecological engineering; we subsidise projects and we provide for the fixed and regulated subsidies to environment and nature organisations, amongst others.
The departement acts as the one stop-shop for environment, nature and energy to all international or supranational organisations and actors.