Netherlands (The)

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Updated to: 09 October 2013

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Distinguishing features of the EIA/SEA system

Any key highlights or distinguishing features of the country's EIA and SEA system.

On July 1st 2010, Dutch Environmental Assessment legislation changed the EA system. This amendment modified the procedure of EIA/SEA. The  categories of plans, programmes and projects requiring an EIA or SEA, were not modified. This page describes the current EIA/SEA procedure (after July 1st, 2010).
In the Netherlands we distinguish (in addition to EIA and SEA) between:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment for (relatively) simple, straightforward permits: the simplified procedure;
  • Environmental Impact Assessment for complex decisions and SEA for plans and programmes: the full-fledged procedure.

Note that ‘simplified’ does not necessarily mean ‘easy’. For EIA, the type of permit determines whether the simplified or full-fledged procedure applies. For permits related to the Environmental Act and Mining Act for example, the simplified procedure suffices. For EIA for complex decisions, all projects which require an appropriate assessment on the basis of the Dutch Nature Conservation Act and all projects in which a government body is proponent (e.g. expansion airport, projects concerning the infrastructure, housing programmes) the full-fledged procedure is required.

Administrative system: relevant features

Brief description of the country's administrative system, including existing layers of government, agencies with environmental management responsibilities, and other features that are relevant. Not a complete description of the administrative situation.

Governance and governmental authority in the Netherlands is decentralised. Although central institutions, ministries and parlement (Upper House and House of Reprensentatives of the States General) are in charge of legislation, the decisions on provincial and municipal policies and activities are under responsibility of decentralised authorities.

For environmental management, the main responsible authority is the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment (I&M). In the Netherlands there is no operational department responsible for environmental protection as is the case in many other countries. There is no national environmental management authority for example.

There are three  levels of governance: national, provincial (12 provinces), municipal. Most activities subject to EIA are dealt with by the municipal council or responsible department within the municipality. For plans, the competent authority can be at all three levels, depending on the type of plan. For example national plans are dealt with by the responsible ministry, provincial plans by the provincial board and municipal (land use) plans, by the responsible municipality.

Relevant international conventions

Relevant conventions for EIA/SEA which the country has signed/ratified. Links are provided to relevant sites that give more detailed information on the issue.

  • Aarhus convention
  • Convention on Biodiversity  (1994)
  • Espoo convention (1995)
  • Ramsar Convention (1980)
  • SEA protocol(2003 - Acceptance 2009)

Environmental Standards: relevant features

Brief impression of the country's situation concerning environmental standards. Where relevant, the standards in place are mentioned, as well as their legal status. This is not a complete overview of all the standards in place. Links are provided to relevant sites that give more detailed information on the issue.

Nationally, environmental standards have been established on:

  • Air quality standards
  • Effluent emission standards
  • Noise standards
  • Solid waste standards
  • Water quality standards