Planning and Environmental Law

When governments or large companies are involved in the design of the physical living environment, choices must continuously be made. Major and conflicting interests are often at stake. Planning and environmental law offers a framework for sound assessment of the issues involved. Pels Rijcken is the only Dutch law firm with a team of about 20 attorneys specialised in planning and environmental law.

Planning and Environmental Law attorneys

Our planning and environmental law attorneys focus day in, day out on the legal consequences of planning and environmental choices. They are masters in all elements of planning and environmental law down to the smallest nuances, for instance in relation to area development, energy and climate and environmental enforcement. The specific knowledge and experience of our attorneys always guarantee 'to the point' legal analyses and practical, fast solutions.

Would you like to know more about our team? Watch the video.

Areas of expertise

Pels Rijcken’s planning and environmental law attorneys put their specialised expertise to use in legal project management, conducting proceedings before the (administrative) courts, and providing advice and second opinions. They also act as a sounding board, sometimes concerning specific aspects of a case, in areas including the following:

Urban and Area Development

  • Mobility
  • Expropriation and Compensation for Loss resulting from Administrative Acts
  • Energy and Climate
  • Disasters and Environmental Enforcement
  • Nature
  • Soil
  • Water

Legal project management

In the preparation phase of large, complex spatial projects (e.g. the amendment of a zoning plan), our attorneys regularly form part of the client's project team. Their role within the team is to take care of the legal project management, with the aim of legally securing and recording the reasons for strategic choices and considerations in the project preparation. This results in well-substantiated and comprehensible project choices that will stand up in court.

Have your project checked from a legal perspective

Pels Rijcken's team have developed workshops and checks to help project teams make the decisions and associated investigations 'Council of State-proof'. Examples include:

  • The Blind Spots Check: a preventive check to identify any invisible loopholes in the project.
  • The workshop Sound Project Planning: a workshop to help you make well-substantiated and comprehensible project choices that will stand up in court.
  • The Crash Test: a legal assessment of the decision and other planning products (EIA reports, etc.) before they are adopted (in draft form).

Our clients in the area of planning and environmental law

Pels Rijcken's public law clients include the Dutch State, provinces, municipalities, water boards and water authorities. A few examples include the provinces of Noord-Holland and Gelderland, the municipalities of The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Haarlem, the Vallei and Veluwe Water Board and the Veluwe and the Stichtse Rijnlanden Water Authority. We also work for a number of large companies including Jumbo, KPN and Synchroon. The team has built up an extensive track record in large or complex projects, decision-making processes and procedures. For example, the team has been involved in:

  • New Lock Terneuzen
  • Highest Residential Tower in the Netherlands (Rotterdam Zalmhaven Tower)
  • Urgenda
  • Groningen gas extraction
  • The Integrated Approach to Nitrogen programme (‘PAS’)(questions referred for preliminary ruling)
  • Rotterdam Collection Building
  • Jumbo/realisation of Distribution Centre Nieuwegein
  • Reducing monoculture in postcode area 1012 Amsterdam
  • Asbestos fire in the Municipality of Westland
  • Flood protection


  • "Very professional and very good at matters relating to constitutional and public law." - Chambers Europe 2022
  • "Pels Rijcken handles the most complex cases on administrative law." - Chambers Europe 2022
  • "All-round and in-depth expertise paired with an outstanding reputation in the governmental arena.", "Very client-friendly, with fast responses on requests.", "The team distinguishes itself with a very high level of knowledge and experience.", "We particularly appreciate their pragmatic and fast advice on various aspects of environmental law.", "We chose this firm because it offers expertise in all aspects of planning law.", "The knowledge and diversity within the team is good and they offer great performances in the court room." - The Legal 500, 2022
  • "Highlighting the firm's high level of expertise, one interviewee notes: The team doesn't have a narrow point of view in tackling problems but instead looks at situations from all sides, which is very good for creating a holistic viewpoint, adding: Non-lawyers are more willing to accept what the lawyers say because they're not just using legal speak but do a good job of addressing everything.", Chambers Europe 2021
  • "Drawing on the firm's longstanding history in public law, one client comments: The team consists of good communicators who are very practical and don't tend to get stuck down in legal details but instead look for solutions, concluding: It is THE expert on public law and immigration law.", Chambers Europe 2021
  • The Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn team displays strong ownership of their client’s problem and makes good use of every opportunity to solve it.”, “Very strong in combining legal practice with technical content.”, “The team has a lot of experience in cases where the government is involved.”, “Thorough knowledge of the law and a very good understanding of how it works within the government and the various ministries.”, Legal 500, 2021
  • "Clients describe the lawyers as experienced, precise and sensitive to their clients' needs. Clients further enthuse that the lawyers are highly knowledgeable, reliable and experts on administrative law.", Chambers Europe 2020
  • Pels Rijcken has a unique position in advising government on public law. As the fixed law firm for the national government they acquire a broad experience in assisting government in public law related cases. The team therefore has a broad experience. The people are competent lawyers. Their knowledge is complemental to the in-house knowledge of government lawyers”, Legal 500, 2020
  • Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn NV offers a broad range of services combined with the best specialists who are able to offer in-depth knowledge and are not afraid of challenges.", Legal 500 2019
  • "One client extols the team as the best in the fieldon account of the lawyers' legal knowledge and advocacy skills, and adds: They have a good feel for the political process and the social context.", Chambers Europe 2019
  • "Another source adds: Their commitment is very strong, they keep on going until every detail is settled. The source adds: They are creative and always find a way out of a difficult situation.", Chambers Europe 2019
  • "They communicate in a very effective way and are fast, accurate, concise, accessible and easy to get along with. They can provide a high-end legal solution on complex issues at very short notice.", Chambers Europe 2018
  • "They have the ability to see things from the perspective of the client, in order to provide realistic and practical advice.", Chambers Europe 2018
  • "The very effective communicators are always impressive, delivering high-end solutions to complex issues at very short notice.", Legal 500 2018
  • "The team has impressed me many times. It is a close-knit team which is fast, accurate, concise, always accessible and easy to get along with. They are also able to provide high-end legal solutions on complex issues at very short notice.", Chambers Europe 2017
  • "New developments are always on top of their mind and they develop pragmatic legal products which are very useful.", Chambers Europe 2017
  • "It is very customer-focused and has proved to us that it has extensive knowledge. A lot of attention is paid to fostering a good working relationship with the client.", Chambers Europe 2016
  • "It is accessible, it has deep knowledge of public law and it practises law in a way that adds significant value to the client's business.", Chambers Europe 2016 
  • "The team's sector knowledge is up to date and thorough.", Legal 500 2016