There is usually a hearing for an environmental permit appeal. The hearing often happens within 3 months after the court receives the notice of appeal.
Who is invited to the hearing?
The court invites all the ‘parties’ (the people who are involved in the appeal) to go to the hearing. The invitation says when and where the hearing will happen, and it explains how to submit new documents and how to register witnesses and/or experts. The parties are:
The parties do not have to go to the hearing.
Can you bring witnesses or experts to the hearing?
You can bring one or more witnesses and/or experts to the hearing. If you want to do this, you must tell the court in writing no later than 10 days before the date of the hearing. Your letter must include the name of each witness or expert and the town or city where they live. The witnesses or experts can ask you to pay for all or some of their travel costs, their accommodation costs and the time they spend working on the appeal. The judge does not have to hear any witnesses or experts.
Who will be in the courtroom?
As well as the parties, the general public can also go to the hearing. Hearings in an appeal procedure about an environmental permit are usually open to the public. In some cases, the judge can decide that some or all of the hearing will be held behind closed doors.
What happens during the hearing?
During the hearing, all the parties can say what they think, respond to what the other parties say and answer the judge’s questions. The judge may ask the parties if they need an extra hearing.
If there is no extra hearing, the judge then says when he or she will publish the ruling. The judge usually makes a decision about the environmental permit appeal within 6 weeks after the hearing. If the judge needs more time, he or she will tell you this.
Mediation in addition to legal proceedings
You can also choose to have mediation in addition to legal proceedings. A mediator is someone who helps you to work with the other parties to solve the conflict about the environmental permit. The judge also checks to see if mediation would be a good choice in your case.
What is an interim decision?
The judge can make an interim decision if he or she finds a problem with the decision to grant or reject the environmental permit, for example if the decision was not made as carefully as it should have been. The government organisation is then given a specific amount of time to solve the problem. The judge decides if the organisation has done this, and then he or she makes a ruling.
What is a simplified procedure?
The judge can also choose to hear the appeal in a simplified procedure. In that case, the judge closes the appeal and there is no hearing, for example because:
- the administrative court does not have the right authorisation. The decision says that ‘the administrative court manifestly lacks jurisdiction’ (in Dutch: ‘de bestuursrechter is kennelijk onbevoegd’);
- the documents clearly show that the administrative body was right to grant or reject the environmental permit. The decision says that ‘the appeal is manifestly well-founded or manifestly unfounded’ (in Dutch: ‘het beroep is kennelijk gegrond of kennelijk ongegrond’);
- the notice of appeal was submitted too late. The decision says that ‘the appeal is therefore manifestly inadmissible’ (in Dutch: ‘het beroep is dan kennelijk niet-ontvankelijk’).