Spatial Planning

In a spatial plan (zoning plan), the municipality or, where appropriate, the national government or the province (integration plan), establishes what can be done with the space, taking into account legal and planning considerations. For example, it states where installations for electricity production (including wind turbines and solar parks) and other buildings and structures may be located, how large buildings and structures can be, and what the uses of land and buildings are. If the intended project does not fit within the applicable zoning plan, the competent authority may decide to establish a new zoning plan or integration plan for that project or to follow procedures for deviating from a zoning plan environmental permit.

For projects above 100 MW, a zoning plan is drawn up by the government, called a government integration plan. The province can draw up a provincial integration plan for wind farms of 5 to 100 MW. The municipality is the competent authority for other projects, or if the national and/or provincial authorities decide not to apply their powers. If the intended project does not fit within the applicable zoning plan, the municipality may decide to deviate from the applicable zoning plan in the required environmental permit (Article 2.12, General Provisions for Environmental Law (Wabo)) or adopt a zoning plan.


A deviation from the zoning plan will be provided with a so-called ‘good spatial substantiation’ (as the law calls it), the content of which is comparable to an explanation of a zoning plan or integration plan. A zoning plan or integration plan consists of three parts:

  • The explanatory notes (as well as good spatial support) justify that the spatial plan provides good spatial planning. The explanation consists of a project description and the intended objectives, a description of the existing and future situation, the deviation from the applicable zoning plan and whether the project fits within the policy frameworks. The explanatory notes also describe the consequences for environmental quality (noise, air quality, external safety, soil, shadow flicker), water management (water test), archaeology, landscape and flora and fauna. The results of consultations with relevant municipalities, water boards, services of the province, central government and other relevant organisations are processed. Finally, the social and financial-economic feasibility is substantiated (including the results of participation and communication with citizens and civil society organisations and the method of substantiation and financial-economic feasibility for the competent authority). An explanation of the legal planning part is also included: the explanation of the use of (double) destinations and an indication of the associated legal regulation;
  • The imagination (also called: planmap) is a digital representation of the plan area, which includes the (double) destinations, function and area designations and measurements, linked to a specific location (geographical location). The destinations are mainly motivated by the desired options in the plan, with the precondition being good spatial planning;
  • The rules contain the legal regulation for the different (double) destinations and indications. Among other things, it is indicated whether, what and how it is permitted to build and what the use options are. The maximum construction height of structures (wind turbines) can be set here, or also, for example, the associated degree of flexibility.


A zoning plan / integration plan is delivered as a standard data set for publication on in accordance with the applicable spatial planning standards. If desired, a data set for publication of the environmental permit determination decision in deviation from the zoning plan can also be supplied.

Environmental code

With the introduction of the Environmental Act, the zoning plan will make way for the environmental plan. This is one of the most important instruments of the Environmental Act. It is currently about spatial planning and will soon be about a balanced allocation of functions in the context of the physical living environment. The environmental plan will be broadened in scope with respect to the zoning plan, for example by including rules for wellbeing and felling, but also environmental rules in the environmental plan. The integration plan is replaced by the project decision for the development of a project of central or provincial interest. For projects above 100 MW, for example, a project decision is taken by central government, and for wind farms from 5 to 100 MW, the province can take a provincial project decision. A project decision immediately includes the necessary permits and immediately changes an environmental plan.