The Council notes that the government’s role in safeguarding the quality of the Dutch landscape is no longer clear since the central government has discontinued its official landscape policy. In addition, the landscape is too often regarded as a sectoral interest, with conservation and protection of the existing situation defined as a priority. The Council believes that the spatial changes required to address major sustainability challenges offer plenty of opportunities for the creation of new valuable landscapes. The Council therefore advocates using the transition to a sustainable society to create valuable landscapes. However, that transition will lead to a great deal of resistance if insufficient attention is devoted to the landscape. The Council suggests that residents of and visitors to the unique Dutch landscape should be much more closely involved in this transition.
The Council recommends incorporating a requirement in environmental and planning policy to devote attention to landscape quality in this way, both nationally and at the regional level. In practice, this means that government authorities must start by engaging in open dialogue with local residents about landscape changes when preparing environmental vision documents or elaborating sectoral plans for water or energy challenges, for instance. After all, residents possess unique knowledge and experience of the landscape. The Council sees no reason to change the existing relationships between government authorities: any party seeking to realise spatial changes must exercise its duty of care for the landscape.
In preparing this advice, the Council has sought inspiration by talking to local residents in two regions of the Netherlands about the values they associate with ‘the landscape of the future’. In addition, the Council has challenged ten design agencies and educational institutions to present their vision of the Dutch landscape in 2070. These activities were an important source of inspiration for the advisory report.