Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment Annual report 2015

In 2015 the declining trend in the number of advisory reports in the Netherlands continued. We issued about 25% fewer advisory reports than in 2014. Changes to the legislation mean that in the Netherlands an advisory report from the NCEA is now mandatory less often and that since mid-2014, government authorities in the Netherlands must pay for such reports. In the discussions on the new legislation, the NCEA continues to emphasise the importance of an independent and expert review.

Internationally, it is increasingly no longer solely about the environment, but about integrated reporting of environmental and social impacts. Strategic environmental assessment continues to advance steadily, with great demand for Dutch knowledge in this area. In 2015 we advised governments abroad, Dutch ministries and embassies and the Dutch business community.

In this annual report we present a selection of our projects and activities.

Advisory reports the Netherlands

Decline in the number of advisory reports by the ncea

2015 71 mandatory 50 non-mandatory
2014 112 mandatory 46 non-mandatory
2013 187 mandatory 64 non-mandatory

Number of advisory reports and themes in the netherlands

  • Rural areas
  • Water
  • Industry & energy
  • Intensive livestock farming
  • Infrastructure
  • Housing projects, urban construction projects and industrial estates

Advisory reports the Netherlands

We issued 141 advisory reports in 2015, almost half of which were mandatory reviews of environmental assessment reports and the remainder non-mandatory advisory reports, for example on the desired content of an environmental assessment report.

Over 30% fewer reviews than in 2014

The decline in the total number of reviews of environmental assessment reports continued: over 30% fewer than in 2014. This is largely due to the decline in the number of environmental assessments for land-use plans for unzoned land. The number of non-mandatory advisory reports increased slightly in absolute and percentage terms vis-à-vis 2014.
For the first time since the start of the economic crisis in 2008 and the changes in the environmental assessment legislation in 2010, the number of reports on residential construction, industrial areas and urban projects increased slightly.

Incorporating submissions by the public in recommendations increases support for the decision

In 75% of the advisory reports on Terms of Reference of the environmental assessment report we considered submissions by the public. This compares with 64% in 2014. This is a positive development, because including the specific information from submissions improves the quality of our recommendations.
When reviewing environmental assessment reports we had fewer requests to consider submissions by the public: such requests were made in only 40% of cases. The NCEA hopes to increase this percentage again in the coming years by giving more emphasis to the importance of submissions in its contacts with government authorities.

Important information was missing from 66% of the environmental assessment reports

We established that 66% of the environmental assessment reports we reviewed had important shortcomings. In 2014 this percentage was 63%. This percentage is still very high. In about half of the reviews the competent authorities augmented the report with the information requested and resubmitted it for review so that this environmental information could be taken into account when reaching a decision.

Information on the impacts on Natura 2000 areas was often lacking and no alternative (more environmentally friendly) solutions were described. In 2015 there was a striking lack of information on water, particularly on groundwater management and water quality.

Advisory reports 2015 - the Netherlands

Advisory reports on Terms of Reference

Advisory reviews

Other advisory reports

34%No significant shortcomings in environmental assessment reports
66%Significant shortcomings in environmental assessment reports
The number of projects on housing and industrial estates increased by 50%
The number of projects on land-use plans rural areas decreased by66%

Themes the Netherlands

Busy times for environmental assessment legislation
Growing attention for health impacts in plans and projects
More environmental assessment procedures for wind farms?
A good year for acquiring experience in environmental and planning visions
Water quality and climate adaptation high on the agenda

Themes the Netherlands

Busy times for environmental assessment legislation

The Environment and Planning Act was approved by the House of Representatives. It is now with the Senate. The consultation version of the legislation relating to the implementation of the Environment and Planning Act is expected to be published in mid-2016. It will then be clear what exactly will change for environmental assessment in practice once the Environment and Planning Act comes into force. We have already prepared a factsheet: factsheet Omgevingswet en milieueffectrapportage [fact sheet on the Environment and Planning Act and environmental assessment - only in Dutch].
In 2015 the implementation legislation for the revision of the environmental assessment guidelines was submitted to the House of Representatives. This will take shape in 2016. The same applies to the new Nature Protection Act.

Growing attention for health impacts in plans and projects

There is increasing evidence that taking health into account in environmental assessment and spatial planning is seen as important. Therefore, in order to support practitioners, we produced the Guide on Health in environmental assessment, organised two meetings, issued a factsheet on health in environmental assessment and made a videoon the same subject.
Examples of advisory reports (in Dutch) giving attention to a healthy social environment included Gebiedsontwikkeling Oostelijke Langstraat, N629 Dongen-Oosterhout, Omgevingsplan Binckhorst and Bergwijkpark Diemen.
Health is also an item on the agenda for 2016: Together with other parties we are organising informative meetings, and health will certainly crop up again as a theme in the advisory reports.

More environmental assessment procedures for wind farms?

In 2020 the Netherlands hopes to generate 6000 megawatts from terrestrial wind farms and in 2023 to generate 4450 megawatts from marine wind farms. At the end of 2015 the counter stood at approximately 3400 megawatts from wind turbines in operation on land and offshore. In 2015 the NCEA reviewed over 1500 megawatts worth of new wind turbines in environmental assessment reports. This mostly concerned assessments for plans, rather than for concrete projects.
We began 2016 with new environmental assessment procedures worth approximately 1000 megawatts. As a result of this flying start we expect that in 2016 the number of megawatts will be much higher than in 2015.

2016, a good year for acquiring experience in environmental and planning visions

One of the characteristics of invitation planning is flexibility. Areas change gradually over time, not adhering to a fixed programme. How does environmental assessment fit into this and how should this be tackled? A video has been made, to show how: Invitation planning and EA. A useful article Flexibility in spatial plans requires modified environmental assessment in our 2015 Views and Experiences publication gives concrete examples. Invitation planning was central in our advisory reports (in Dutch) on three plans: Bestemmingsplan Oosterwold, Omgevingsplan Binckhorst and Centrumplan Eerbeek.
In 2016, together with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, provinces and municipalities we will start a number of pilot projects in order to acquire experience in applying environmental assessment to 'environmental and planning' visions and spatial plans. We will share our experience with you via workshops and fact sheets.

Water quality and climate adaptation are high on the agenda for 2016

Water quality in the Netherlands is still not up to standard, which for example is evident from the Nationaal Waterplan 2016-2021 and Waterplan Aa en Maas 2016-2021 environmental assessment reports.

Water safety, the availability of fresh water and climate adaptation are important topics in environmental assessment for 2016. A good example is the Peilbesluit IJsselmeergebied (which relates to water and groundwater levels in the Lake IJssel area), as are various dike-reinforcing schemes, such as Dijkverbetering Eemshaven-Delfzijl.
In 2016 the National Delta Plan enters the phase of execution and realisation. Climate adaptation and environmental assessment will be discussed in a meeting in the spring. In 2015 it was striking that information on groundwater management and water quality was so often missing from environmental assessment reports. So in 2016 we will prepare a factsheet containing practical information on water in environmental assessment reports.

Advisory reports International

  • Country activities
  • Regional activities

Advisory reports International

Recommendations on good practice environmental assessment

New in 2015 was an advisory report on good practice environmental assessment for tin mining in Indonesia. It was requested by the IDH Tin Working Group and the recommendations for good practice environmental assessment are based on an analysis of five existing environmental assessment reports and international good practice. In 2016 at the request of the Land Governance Multi Stakeholder Dialogue we will issue a similar advisory report on good practice environmental assessment for harbour development.

The NCEA as coach

Coaching in strategic environmental assessment is becoming a more prominent part of our work. Many countries still have little experience in strategic environmental assessment. We advise on the form the process should take, the involvement of stakeholders and integration in decision-making. In Mali, for example, good collaboration between the ministries of agriculture and environment is crucial for the integration of environmental assessment in the development of the irrigation plan for the Niger delta. In Rwanda we are helping to attune the strategic environmental reporting to the processes for planning land and water management in four catchments.

An environmental assessment helpdesk for Dutch investments

Investing abroad? Nowadays there are various government funds that can help with funding. Obviously, the investments must comply with local legislation and rules, including those for environmental assessment. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), which facilitates the funds, therefore involves us in the screening of project proposals for mandatory environmental assessments. On request we also review the quality of environmental assessment reports and/or their terms of reference, for example for projects for water infrastructure on Bohla island in Bangladesh, drinking water in Parakou (Benin) and raspberry farming in Tanzania. If possible, we then inform the national government, so that they can also use our advisory reports.

Advisory reports 2015 - International

Advisory reports on scoping / review EA reports, legislation and the EA process

Advisory reports by the Dutch Sustainability Unit (DSU)

Capacity development countries / regions

27 Advisory reports on scoping/review EA reports, legislation and the EA process
18 Advisory reports by the DSU on themes such as sustainable development and climate
30 Training, workshops and presentations
13 Capacity development programmes and activities

Themes International

How sustainable are Dutch development programmes?
Good legislation is important for an effective environmental assessment system
Strategic environmental assessment gains ground
Environmental assessment for sustainable decisions on oil and gas

International themes

How sustainable are Dutch development programmes?

How should sustainable development be translated into concrete actions? The Netherlands has expressed high ambitions for its national and international policy. The Dutch Sustainability Unit supports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in integrating sustainable development and climate into its programmes in partner countries. We have advised on the sustainability of hydropower dams in Pakistan and Congo and on the efficacy of the World Bank proposal for a new Environmental and Social Framework.


In our view, good legislation is one of the mainstays of an effective environmental assessment system. On request we facilitate workshops on this topic for government, lawyers and NGOs. In the past 25 years we have built up expertise in environmental assessment legislation and rules throughout the world. As a result, we can help countries improve their legislation. In 2015 we led workshops in Georgia, Uganda and Zanzibar.

Strategic environmental assessment gains ground

Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of countries in which legislation for strategic environmental assessment has come into force. The importance of establishing social and environmental impacts at strategic level and of seeking better alternatives is increasingly being acknowledged. We gladly contribute to this awareness-raising in countries where strategic environmental assessment is still in its infancy. In 2015 we participated in high-level workshops in Georgia, Zanzibar and Rwanda. We were also involved in a number of pilot procedures, for example in Mali and Rwanda, and we are collaborating with China and fellow professionals to find the most effective application of strategic environmental assessment.

Environmental assessment for sustainable decisions on oil and gas

Oil and gas exploitation remains topical in many countries. Governments and companies seem to have learned from negative environmental impacts in the past and from the social unrest associated with inequitable distribution of profits. They are motivated to develop new activities more sustainably. Strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment are often mandatory under national legislation and offer many opportunities for implementing this intention in practice. Last year we gave workshops, often jointly with the Norwegian Oil for Development programme, such as those in Lebanon and Myanmar.


42 presentations


Presentations in the Netherlands - In Dutch

  • Actualiteiten rondom m.e.r. voor plannen en projecten, IenM-M.e.r.-dag, Utrecht
  • Basiscursus Milieurecht, Geoplan, Amsterdam
  • Cursus M.e.r.-beoordeling, Berghauser Pont, Utrecht
  • Cursus Milieueffectrapportage via Geoplan voor gemeente Horst aan de Maas
  • Gezondheid in m.e.r., lezing tijdens themabijeenkomst Gezondheid in m.e.r.,
  • Gezondheid in m.e.r. en ruimtelijke plannen (samen met RIVM), IenM-m.e.r.-dag
  • Health in EIA and SEA, Opportunities for a healthy environment Health impact assessment in EA (SEA), in het kader van bezoek Chinese delegatie aan Nerderland, Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, Den Haag.
  • Introductie m.e.r. en plan-m.e.r., bijdrage aan post-master Envrironmental Sustainability, TU Delft
  • Masterclass Omgevingswet voor Kamerleden en medewerkers, Den Haag
  • Omgevingswet en m.e.r., IenM-m.e.r.-dag, Utrecht
  • Presentatie Ontgrondingen en m.e.r., Vakberaad Ontgrondingen, Utrecht
  • Presentatie over m.e.r. algemeen, de organisatie van m.e.r., de meerwaarde van m.e.r., Commissie m.e.r. aan medewerkers van Provincie Fryslan, Omgevingsdienst (FUMO) en gemeente Smallingerland
  • Presentatie over m.e.r. algemeen, wetgeving, meerwaarde van m.e.r., voorbeeldcases aan medewerkers van Provincie Zeeland, Omgevingsdienst, Waterschap Zuiderzeeland en gemeenten Middelburg en Terneuzen
  • Themabijeenkomst Gezondheid en m.e.r., Utrecht
  • Themabijeenkomst M.e.r. en grondslag van de aanvraag, Utrecht
  • Themabijeenkomst Omgevingsvisie en m.e.r., Utrecht
  • Themabijeenkomst PAS in de praktijk, met VVM, Utrecht
  • Reasonable alternatives in EIA, EU conference on revised EIA Directive, Riga
  • 30 Years of Legacy and Challenges Ahead: Health in Environmental Impact Assessment in the Netherlands. The EIA Conference, The revised EIA Directive - Luxemburg

Presentations International

  • Several presentations and workshops during the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)-conference 2015; Florence, Italy.
    • Joint session 'Toward a systems approach to SEA capacity development: Lessons learnt.'
    • Partnership in capacity development
    • SEA distant learning: trial and error?
    • The NCEA's approach to capacity development
    • Designing alternatives for landscape in environmental assessment
  • Presentation during high-level round table Benefits of introducing modern EIA and SEA systems, organised by the Ministry of Environment, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Keynote presentations for sector ministries, Tbilisi, Georgia
    • SEA as a governmental tool for assessment of cumulative effects (example in the water sector)
    • SEAs for land-use plans in Macedonia; the Netherlands and Georgia
  • Training Introduction to SEA, Telavi, Georgië
  • Workshop SEA and EIA, with a focus on reviewing of SEA and EIA in oil exploration and production, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Contribution to the kick-off workshop on the subject of SEA for oil/gas exploration in Ghana's Volta basin, Accra, Ghana
  • Keynote presentation A capacity development - needs & strategy, for environment sector working group, by the Ministry of Environment, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
  • Presentations during the visit of a delegation of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, and ACEE to Utrecht, the Netherlands:
    • Policy SEA
    • Role of the NCEA in EA in the Netherlands
    • SEA and Dutch Spatial Planning - evolving together
  • Presentation Introduction SEA for APEIER members (association for EIA professionals) Kigali Rwanda
  • Presentation Building capacity in Central Africa, ARCOS Kigali, Rwanda
  • Presentation Integrating EIA into project design, approval and implementation, at Rwanda Development Board, Kigali, Rwanda
  • Training Applying SEA to Integrated Water Resources Management in Rwanda, IWRM Musanze, Rwanda
  • Training Strategic communication for ESIA, MEEATU Bujumbura, Burundi
  • Several presentations on the subject of EIA Financing and Screening in Zanzibar, part of the EIA-regulations update, Stonetown and Pemba, Zanzibar
  • Workshop SEA with a focus on the oil and gas sector, Zanzibar
  • Several presentations during a workshop on the subject of Update & introduction EIA/SEA regulations, Jinja & Hoima, Uganda
  • Presentation for several ministries EIA for Port development, Cotonou, Benin.
  • Presentation EIA/SEA in Mali, Mali Platform NWP/ Netherlands Water Partnership, The Hague
  • Workshop EIA and the role of the NCEA in the ORIO project cycle, for ORIO project advisors, The Hague
  • Presentation: EIA, Instrument for Sustainable Development, FDW Sustainability Day, The Hague.
  • Peer review on the subject of policy relevance in climate knowledge, during session Adaptation in mitigation landscapes, CoCoon conference, The Hague
  • Presentation Climate smart ODA programmes: available expertise during the regional workshop organised by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kampala, Uganda
  • Guest lecture during Environmental Assessment for Water-related Policies and Developments course, the systems approach of NCEA to EIA/SEA, UNESCO-IHE, Delft
  • Reasonable alternatives in EIA, EU conference on revised EIA Directive, Riga
  • 30 Years of Legacy and Challenges Ahead: Health in Environmental Impact Assessment in the Netherlands. The EIA Conference: the revised EIA Directive - Luxembourg

48.421 visitors



3.087 e-newsletter subscribers


233 tweets

234 publications



4 video's


51 employees per 31 december 20153924151284

Experts who participated in NCEA's working groups in 201512027

Organisation chart

organisation chart

Members and advisors who participated

The Netherlands

  • Mr H.G. van der Aa
  • Mr F.G. van den Aarsen
  • Ms C.J.M. Anzion
  • Mr J.J. Bakker
  • Mr A. van Beek
  • Mr E.H.A. de Beer
  • Mr D.J.F. Bel
  • Mr J.H. van den Berg
  • Mr G.J. van Blokland
  • Mr P.L. de Boer
  • Mr S. Bokma
  • Mr D.A. Boogert
  • Mr P. van der Boom
  • Mr H. Boukes
  • Ms T.B.J. Bremer
  • Mr M.J. Brolsma
  • Mr N.M.J.A. Dankers
  • Mr J.A.M. van Dijk
  • Mr H.H. Ellen
  • Mr F.H. Everts
  • Ms Y.C. Feddes
  • Ms A. Freriks
  • Mr C. van der Giessen
  • Mr J.M. van der Grift
  • Mr J.H.J. van der Gun
  • Mr D. Hamhuis
  • Mr R.M. van Heeringen
  • Mr D.L.J. Heikens
  • Mr C.J. Hemker
  • Mr W.A.M. Hessing
  • Mr P. Hoekstra
  • Mr J.A. Huizer
  • Mr S.R.J. Jansen
  • Mr W.H.A.M. Keijsers
  • Mr R.J. van Kerkhoff
  • Mr R.J.M. Kleijberg
  • Mr M.A. Kooiman
  • Mr J.A.M.M. Kops
  • Mr P.A. Kroeze
  • Mr P.H.R. Langeweg
  • Mr J.E.M. Lax
  • Mr A. van Leerdam
  • Mr J.J.A. van Leeuwen
  • Ms Y.J. van Manen
  • Mr R.G. Mes
  • Mr H.J. Meurs
  • Mr G.W.N.M. van Moorsel
  • Mr J. Mulder
  • Mr L. Oprel
  • Mr H. Otte
  • Mr M.J.F. van Pelt
  • Mr B.P.A. Peters
  • Mr M.M.J. Pijnenburg
  • Mr J. Renes
  • Mr K.A.A. van der Spek
  • Mr H.E.M. Stassen
  • Mr J. Termorshuizen
  • Mr C.T.M. Vertegaal
  • Mr R.L. Vogel
  • Mr N.P.J. de Vries
  • Mr R.F. de Vries
  • Mr P.P.A. van Vugt
  • Mr K. Wardenaar
  • prof.dr. G.P. van Wee
  • Mr F. Wijnants
  • Mr J. van der Winden
  • Mr Th. G.J. Witjes
  • Mr R.A.M. van Woerden
  • Mr F. Woudenberg
  • Mr E. Wymenga
  • Mr H.A.P. Zinger
  • Mr G. de Zoeten
  • Mr G.C. Bergsma
  • Ms L. Besselink
  • Mr J. de Best
  • Mr A.J. Bliek
  • Mr W. Blom
  • Mr H.S. Buijtenhek
  • Ms E.E.M. Coopmann- van Overbeek
  • Mr J.G.A. Coppes
  • Mr G.B. Dekker
  • Mr R.J. van Dijk
  • Mr S. Dirksen
  • Mr R. During
  • Mr K. Essink
  • Mr N. Faber
  • Ms M.H. Fast
  • Mr Th. Fens
  • Mr W. Foppen
  • Mr G. Gabry
  • Mr H.R.G.K. Hack
  • Mr W. Hoeve
  • Ms F.L. Hooimeijer
  • Ms Z. Jager
  • Mr J.A. Janse
  • Mr G.K. Jobse
  • Mr J.L. Kloosterman
  • Mr Y.S. Kok-Palma
  • Mr H.D. Koppen
  • Ms G. Korf
  • Mr H.C. Kromhout
  • Mr H. Ligteringen
  • Mr H. van Londen
  • Mr W.F. Passchier
  • Mr J.L.P.M. van der Pluijm
  • Mr T. Prins
  • Mr R.H. Schokker
  • Mr C.P. Slijpen
  • Mr H.T. Sman
  • Mr R.C.G.M. Smetsers
  • Mr E.R. Snijders
  • Mr M.A.A. Soppe
  • Mr S. Teeuwisse
  • Mr P. Uijt de Haag
  • Ms S.M. van Velsen
  • Ms M.L. Verspui
  • Mr P. de Vos
  • Ms N.F.H.H. Vossen
  • Mr H.W. Waardenburg
  • Mr J. Wesseling


  • Mr T.J. Achterbosch
  • Mr G.J. Akkerman
  • Ms K. Amir
  • Mr D. Annandale
  • Ms C.L.M. Bentvelsen
  • Mr P.S. Bindraban
  • Mr H. Breman
  • Mr S. Bouaré
  • Mr F.D. Deodatus
  • Mr J.P. van Dessel
  • Ms B.P. Devi
  • Mr S.S. Dhillion
  • Ms F.M. Galema
  • Mr G.C. de Jong
  • Mr F. Jongsma
  • Mr J.J. Kessler
  • Mr P.C. de Koning
  • Mr. H.J. Lof
  • Mr H.R.J. van Maanen
  • Mr G.W.N.M. van Moorsel
  • Mr J.A. Roelvink
  • Mr J.G.L. de Schutter
  • Ms M.A. Slingerland
  • Mr R. Slootweg
  • ir. J.P. van Soest
  • Mr H. van der Spek
  • Mr A. Verhagen
  • Mr W.A.M. Vlemmix
  • Mr E. Wymenga
  • Mr E. Zigterman

Financial matters

3.982.066 The Netherlands

1.892.954 Development cooperation

197.509 International

Financial statements

Financial statements


The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment is an independent body of experts. It advises national and international governments on the quality of environmental assessment reports and thereby hopes to contribute to sound decision-making. The NCEA makes its extensive knowledge of environmental assessment available to all.