Environment & Planning

Environment & Planning

In a place as densely populated as the Netherlands, it is common to see small areas of land with many different functions and uses. Environmental law regulates the complex distribution of available space. This area of law is constantly changing due to new national and European laws and regulations, new building techniques and societal developments. This requires legal expertise and sector knowledge. Our specialists in the Environmental & Planning Team are experts in the areas of spatial planning and environmental law. They give advice to government bodies, project developers and large companies in the Netherlands and abroad. Our specialists are involved in complex and extremely sensitive - sometimes precedent setting - cases and contribute to the creation of new legislation, such as the Dutch Environment and Planning Act. Our Environmental & Planning Team's leading position in the market is confirmed by its rankings in legal guides such as Chambers Europe and the Legal 500.

  • recommendation people shaking hands
    Clients say the department is responsive, and the team's advice is pertinent and positive: "They are very available, to the point and always keep an eye on the interest of us as their client. They also will put forward our position or statements in a strong but acceptable way to the other party."
    Chambers Europe, Public Law: Planning and Environment (2018 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    Clients note a "great collaboration," working with a "committed team" that is "very forward-thinking."
    Chambers Europe, Public Law: Planning and Environment (2018 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    First Tier firm.
    Legal 500, Environment & planning (2018 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    Houthoff’s department is very strong in contentious and non-contentious matters.
    Legal 500, Environment & planning (2018 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    First Tier firm.
    Legal 500, Environment & planning (2017 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    "Houthoff Buruma has ‘in-depth industry knowledge’ and gives ‘to-the-point advice’ on a wide range of environmental, planning and zoning matters."
     
    Legal 500, Environment & planning (2017 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    First Tier firm.
     
    Legal 500, Environment & planning (2016 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    "The team is praised for its value for money."
     
    Legal 500, Environment & planning (2016 Edition)

Our expertise on the environmental sector

Our experts in spatial planning give advice and litigate in matters such as area development (including zoning plans, land development and expropriation) and public-private partnerships. As one of the few law firms in the Netherlands specialised in this area, Houthoff has an extensive cassation practice and is involved in the most ground-breaking cases before the Dutch Supreme Court such as the proceedings on the expropriation of the 300-hectare Hedwigepolder.

Our Environmental & Planning Team's environmental law work includes advice on environmental issues as part of large national and cross-border M&A and real estate transactions. Our specialists are known for their litigation expertise and experience. They assist large companies and government bodies in licence and enforcement procedures.

Our Environment & Planning Team works closely with our specialists in areas such as M&A, real estate, criminal law, procedural law and procurement law. Together with a sector-specific approach (including real estate, energy, healthcare, governance and the financial sector) this multi-disciplinary approach leads to well-considered advice and pragmatic solutions. We provide solutions for today and for the future. In cross-border issues we work together with the best lawyers from all over the world through Lex Mundi, the most prestigious law firm network, and we always push boundaries for our clients. 

  • Advising and representing Tata Steel, one of Europe's largest steel plants, on their most important environmental permits and enforcement procedures.
  • Houthoff represents the public service provider in the mobility chain, RDW, in the zoning procedure relating to its 60 hectares test centre located next to Lelystad Airport, where it i.a. tests cars and tires for the Dutch market against strict international and national standards.
  • Argos Group and Varo Energy merge, creating a major independent oil company in North West Europe with a workforce of over 1,500 employees and an expected total annual throughput of 16 million m3. Houthoff assisted Argos Group and its shareholders Reggeborgh and Atlas Invest in the envisaged merger with Varo Energy. Following the merger the joint company will be owned in equal parts by three parties: the current shareholders of Argos, i.e. private investment companies Reggeborgh and Atlas Invest; Carlyle International Energy Partners, an advisory fund which is part of the global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group; and international energy and commodities company Vitol. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval and scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2015.
  • Advising the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment on various key legislative initiatives, including the new Environment and Planning Act, innovative environmental and planning instruments and land readjustment law, experimenting with new legal instruments and striving for creative solutions in complex matters. As a member of various expert teams, Houthoff provides hands-on advice to the projects involved, which include large area developments, harbours and large infrastructural projects.
  • Houthoff is the lead counsel to the private owner of the vast Dutch polder Duchess Hedwige (adjacent to the Belgian border in the southern part of the Province of Zeeland). Houthoff advises the owner and litigates against the Dutch Government regarding the planned project of the Dutch Government to submerge the privately-owned polder (more than 300 hectares of cultivated land) and turn it into estuarine nature. This submerging plan of the polder Hedwige is currently a major international political issue between both the Dutch and Belgian governments and the European Commission. Litigation against the State Zoning Plan Duchess Hedwige before the Dutch Council of State, as well as against the decision of the Dutch Government to expropriate 300 hectares of privately-owned land. An expropriation of this scale is unique in the Netherlands.
  • Houthoff assisted Alcogroup, Vanden Avenne Commodities and Vandema in the purchase of the bio-ethanol factory of Abengoa Bioenergy Netherlands in Rotterdam, which was declared bankrupt earlier this year due to financial problems of the Spanish parent company Abengoa S.A. The transaction is subject to permission being granted by the relevant competition authorities.
Jan Frans de Groot

Key Contact

Amsterdam
Advocaat | Partner
+31 20 605 65 44
+31 6 5152 7324

Key Contact

Amsterdam
Advocaat | Counsel
+31 20 605 69 18
+31 6 1496 9273