Plans and programmes relating to environment are an essential tool when organising social activities in time and space.
Plans can be established at various levels: municipal, provincial, regional, federal and international.
Here are a few examples of plans at federal level on which the public could provide input during a public consultation :
- the Marine Spatial Plan concerning the balance between the different sectoral interests in the Belgian part of the North Sea and within the limits set by the marine ecosystem;
- Belgium's National Strategy for Biological Diversity on targets to anticipate, prevent and reduce the causes of biodiversity loss in Belgium.
Each time, when drawing up the final plan, the comments received were taken into account.
What exactly does participation entail?
The federal Law of 13 February 2006 merely sets out the minimum requirements for the procedure which public authorities at each level must observe in all circumstances when organising a public consultation during the working-out process of a plan or programme relating to environment: :
- the public consultation must be announced through the Moniteur Belge official gazette, on the federal portal site www.belgium.be and through another means of communication chosen by the public authority (such as an announcement in a newspaper), at least 15 days before it is due to commence.
- the public consultation must last 60 days, and must be suspended between 15 July and 15 August;
- the announcement in the Moniteur Belge must stipulate the starting and ending date of the public consultation and the method by which the public can make its opinions and comments known;
- the comments and views can be sent to the public authority by post or electronically;
- the public authority must take account of public consultation’s results before reaching its final decision;
- once the public authority has made its decision, it shall explain to the public in a statement the reasons for its final choice and how the public’s comments were taken into account;
- lastly, the public authority must announce the plan or programme it has adopted in the Moniteur Belge and disseminate it on the federal portal site.
The federal law of 13 February 2006 also provides that the government can lay down additional details for public participation if it deems this necessary.
Announcements and results
See Public consultations for current federal and regional public consultations and results of previous public consultations.