On Tuesday 19 September 2023, Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development presented modifications to the 2018 law relating to the protection of nature and natural resources.
According to the ministry, Luxembourg has simplified its regulatory framework concerning nature and natural resource protection. The process began with a comprehensive revision of the 2004 law on nature and resource protection, replaced by the 2018 law of the same name. The new law maintained the core principles of the 2004 version while streamlining administrative procedures related to compensation.
Key principles, such as the prohibition of damaging biotopes and habitats and species protection, have been in place for nearly two decades. However, the 2018 law introduced distinctions between green zones and urbanised zones. Significant exemptions from strict protection were granted in urbanised zones. This was facilitated through the "eco-points" system, a mechanism implemented to evaluate and compensate for biotope and habitat destruction, as well as the creation of a compensation pool and register for compensatory measures.
One notable change is that project owners are no longer required to acquire and manage land for compensation; instead, they can pay a reimbursement tax, with the state handling compensatory measures. This change aims to ensure equal treatment for all development projects.
The first package of modifications aimed to simplify and clarify authorisation procedures for construction in green zones. These changes, effective from 12 September 2023, expand the list of construction projects that can be carried out in green zones without requiring authorisation. They also facilitate the renovation and transformation of existing buildings into green zones, the ministry noted.
The second package, which is a work in progress, focuses on simplifying authorisation procedures for projects in urban areas. This includes promoting "temporary nature" for ecological elements in urban or urbanisable areas. Additionally, it aims to provide flexibility and simplification for administrators and strengthen legal security for the administration during authorisation procedures.
Further measures include the adaptation of regulations regarding eco-points and a guide to ecological compensation, as well as the revision of lists of particularly protected species. These changes align with the "Nature Pact," a tool signed by municipalities to promote the objectives of the 2018 law, according to the ministry. The catalogue of measures within the Nature Pact may be periodically adjusted based on consultations with stakeholders.
A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document has been created to explain the practical implications of these modifications for current and future projects, including renovations or demolitions and reconstructions previously rejected under the old regime but potentially re-evaluated under the new provisions.