National Environment and Planning Strategy

Litmus Test for the new Environmental and Planning Policy

Background and request for advice

The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations asked the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure to advise on the National Environment and Planning Strategy (Nationale Omgevingsvisie: NOVI). Specifically, the minister asked the Council how the ‘main governance and steering mechanisms, either in their current or an amended form, can be deployed effectively to realise the government’s priorities.’

This advice was requested to inform the preparation of the draft National Environment and Planning Strategy, which will be sent to the House of Representatives early in 2019. The Government Position Paper on the National Environment and Planning Strategy was published as an intermediary step on 5 October 2018.

The National Environment and Planning Strategy, or NOVI, is a new policy instrument introduced in the reform of environmental and planning law.

 

Photo: Spiegelwaal, Nijmegen, an example of a complex regional challenge: urban development, flood risk management, infrastructure and landscape quality | © Thea van den Heuvel /DAPh
Photo: © Thea van den Heuvel /DAPh | Spiegelwaal, Nijmegen, an example of a complex regional challenge: urban development, flood risk management, infrastructure and landscape quality

Advice

The National Environment and Planning Strategy is the government’s main instrument for orienting spatial development in order to ensure a good quality environment. Essential to achieving this is a coherent and integrative approach to the major environmental and development challenges facing the Netherlands. The Council is concerned that there are too few signs of this in the preparation of the Strategy and in the arrangements for taking it forward. The main hindrances are the silo mentality and compartmentalised decision-making in government as well as inadequate teamwork between national, regional and local authorities. The Council considers a coherent and integrative approach – the key principle behind the recent reform of environmental and planning law – to be the litmus test for the new environmental and planning policy and as such the government has an important task in bringing this about. The Council also believes that to achieve this it is essential that the government provides clear political direction for the preparation of the National Environment and Planning Strategy. This is one of the Council’s recommendations in its recent advice ‘National Environment and Planning Strategy: Litmus Test for the new Environmental and Planning Policy’.

Recommendations

In its advice the Council makes eight recommendations concerning the substance of the Strategy, the process of preparing it, and working with the Strategy after it has been adopted. Three of the recommendations are:

  1. Ensure that the NOVI contains an inspiring and robust vision for the future of the Netherlands that enables public authorities, businesses, civil society stakeholders and the public to make future-proof decisions. Present this vision, in draft form, for discussion as soon as possible so that it can ripen and be enriched during the course of the political and social debate.
  2. A stronger political steer by the government and more inter-authority cooperation will be essential for policy alignment and integration.
  3. The choice for an area-based approach and the active involvement of national government in regional development implies a division of the country into about thirty regions, with national government having a policy presence in each of them.

Publication

The Council presented its advisory letter ‘National Environment and Planning Strategy: Litmus Test for the new Environmental and Planning Policy’ to Kajsa Ollongren, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, on 20 November 2018.

More information

If you would like more information about this advisory letter, please contact Tim Zwanikken, project leader, at tim.zwanikken@rli.nl, tel. +31 (0)6 52874404.