On Tuesday 18 January 2022, the Chamber of Deputies (Luxembourg's parliament) passed a bill related to the protection of nature and natural resources in the Grand Duchy.
The ruling parties (Democratic Party - DP, LSAP - Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party and the Greens) along with the Pirate Party and the Left voted in favour of the bill, which aims to strengthen the existing legal framework for nature protection. The Christian Social People's Party (CSV) and the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR) voted against the bill.
According to Luxembourg's Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, the amendments proposed in this bill are designed to strengthen the existing legal framework, optimise legal certainty for citizens and simplify the existing procedures related to nature protection. The criminal courts had deemed the provisions on infringements of the law too general, thus requiring adjustments of the relevant law. In close consultation with the Ministry of Justice, the Environment Ministry developed the appropriate amendments, which have now been formally adopted by the Chamber of Deputies.
One important change to the law is the improved legal certainty for residents living in green zones and who, in the case of extreme weather events, are allowed to completely rebuild their homes if they have been destroyed or damaged by "force majeure".
Moreover, these amendments will help to improve the implementation of flood protection and renaturation measures. The state has been granted a right of pre-emption over parcels of land in green zones along watercourses. The protection of "remarkable trees" will also be simplified, as it will no longer be covered by the legal framework for the protection of sites and monuments, but will fall under the nature protection law.
Finally, in the field of light pollution, the law has been strengthened both for humans and wildlife, with the definition of concrete measures against harmful light impacts.
In response to Tuesday's vote, Luxembourg environmental organisation Mouvement Ecologique asbl published a statement in which it demanded several changes to the adapted law.
Despite welcoming some of the amendments, namely regarding its inclusion of light pollution and the extended right of pre-emption, the organisation argued that "an even more targeted reform would have increased the protection of our natural environment and increased acceptance of nature conservation measures". The statement continued: "Conservation needs to be based on both scientific facts [...] and public acceptance".
The organisation also regretted that some of its proposed changes had not been considered by the government or parliament. These included the gradual legalisation of the biotope register and a reform of the compensation system for interventions in nature.
Mouvement Ecologique added that fundamental reforms in the area of agricultural practice remained essential to counter the loss of biodiversity.