Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment Annual report 2016

In 2016, public authorities requested more advisory reports than in 2015, thereby ending the downward trend seen in previous years. The pilot projects in which we explore how environmental assessment offers optimal support when making choices in environmental planning strategies are promising and have been enthusiastically received. In addition to climate change and health in environmental assessment, extra attention was paid to the link between environmental assessment and participation.

At the end of 2016, the results of our collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were independently evaluated. We are proud to say that the conclusions were favourable. Within the collaboration, our support to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency is becoming more important. We are working together with them to achieve good-quality environmental assessment reports for Dutch investments in developing countries.

A selection of our projects and activities is presented in this annual report.

Advisory reports the Netherlands

Slight increase in the number of advisory reports by the ncea

2016 70 mandatory 66 non-mandatory
2015 71 mandatory 50 non-mandatory
2014 112 mandatory 46 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

In 2016, we issued 159 advisory reports, 44 percent of which were mandatory advisory reviews of environmental assessments, the remainder (56 percent) being non-mandatory advisory reports (for example: at the beginning, on the desired content of an environmental assessment and later, when important choices have to be made). In 2015, we issued a total of 141 advisory reports.

Decline in number of advisory reviews has levelled off

The total number of reviews of environmental assessments rose slightly, suggesting that the downward trend seen in recent years in the number of reviews of environmental assessments has been halted. For the third year in a row, the number of non-mandatory advisory reports rose: from 46 in 2014, to 50 in 2015 and 89 in 2016. The rise is attributable partly to the number of pilot projects in which we are exploring how environmental assessment offers optimal support when making choices in an environmental planning strategy and to other advisory reports on important interim choices, for instance relating to wind farms and high-voltage lines.

In 63 percent of the environmental assessments, important information was missing

We found major shortcomings in 63 percent of the environmental assessment reports we reviewed - a percentage similar to that found in previous years. We remain of the opinion that this percentage is too high. In just under half of these reviews, the competent authorities added the information we requested and resubmitted the report to us for review.

Impacts on nature and landscape often not presented

Information on the impacts on Natura2000 areas was often missing, and alternative, more environmentally-friendly solutions were not described. It is striking that in 2016 information on the landscape was lacking, especially for unzoned land.

The top 3 in 2016: livestock farming, the rural area and wind farms

In 2016, we reviewed twice as many environmental assessment reports of livestock farming, the rural area and wind farms as we did in 2015, whereas the number of reports of residential areas and industrial estates we reviewed was 66 percent less.

Pilots on environmental assessment and the Environmental Planning Act

Since early 2016 we have been working on ten pilot advisory reports, to gain experience in the procedures required by the Environmental Planning Act, which will probably come into force in 2019. Municipalities and provinces will then be required to prepare environmental planning strategies whose contents differ from those of the present spatial plans and land-use plans and will thereby also affect the content of environmental assessment reports and the NCEA's recommendations. We are already experimenting with this new way of working. In 2016 we advised on pilots in The Hague , Amsterdam, Rijssen-Holten, Terneuzen and Boekel. Haarlemmermeer municipality and the provinces of Friesland and Noord-Brabant will follow in 2017. The video Pilots Omgevingsplannen & MER shows the experiences and results from the pilots from different perspectives. In the coming year, we will share the results of the pilots at informative meetings and on the website.

Advisory reports issued in the Netherlands in 2016

Advisory reports on terms of reference

Advisory reviews

Other advisory reports

37%No significant shortcomings in environmental assessment reports
63%Significant shortcomings in environmental assessment reports
The number of projects on wind turbines increased by 50%
The number of reviews on housing and industrial estates decreased by 66%

Themes the Netherlands

Environmental assessment assists the transition to sustainable energy
Make room for a healthy environment
Allow environmental assessment to give maximum support to the Environment and Planning Act
Participation and environmental assessment. How can you ensure that they reinforce each other?

Themes the Netherlands

Environmental assessment assists the transition to sustainable energy

Achieving the necessary energy transition is a complex task, which - together with other social issues - must result in environmental planning strategies. It demands deliberations at different levels and collaboration with stakeholders such as public authorities, industry, interest groups and residents. Environmental assessment can offer substantive support for this and can also help in consultations with stakeholders and when finding support for measures. We cover this in the factsheet Energietransitie en milieueffectrapportage (Energy transition and environmental assessment) issued in 2016. Last year we also organised a well-attended meeting on this theme. In 2017, we would again like to share with you the knowledge we have acquired and good examples from practice.

Make room for health

In 2016, we again paid attention to health in environmental assessment. Much attention is paid to health from both the administrative and social perspectives, and this is reflected in the place accorded to health in the Environmental Planning Act. We advise taking possible negative public health impacts of plans and projects into account at an early stage. Health can also be beneficially affected by plans and projects: for example, by the creation of green spaces or by stimulating bicycle use. We produced a fact sheet on this: Groen en gezondheid in milieueffectrapportage (Green spaces and health in environmental assessment) and co-organised a meeting on health and area development with the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Furthermore, since 2016 we have been actively participating in the Maak Ruimte voor Gezondheid (Make Room for Health) network, in which public servants and staff from RIVM, GGD and consultancy firms with expertise on the interface between spatial planning, environment and health can exchange their knowledge.

Allow environmental assessment to give maximum support to the Environmental Planning Act

The Environmental Planning Act was adopted in 2016 and is expected to come into force in 2019. In our reaction to the consultative versions of the Environmental Planning Decree and the Physical Environment (Quality) Decree we advocated maximum deployment of environmental assessment, to support the objectives of the Environmental Planning Act. We also warned that the draft legislation risks weakening environmental assessment.

Our reaction to the proposal for the implementation of the revised environmental assessment guideline for environmental impact assessment included a plea for more attention to be paid to carefully segregating roles when a public authority is the initiator of a proposed scheme and for monitoring and evaluation.

Participation and environmental assessment. How can you ensure that they reinforce each other?

In the run-up to the Environmental Planning Act, the spotlight is on early participation in decision-making. At the same time, the preliminary phase of the environmental assessment procedure has become virtually free-format.

Participation and environmental assessment can reinforce each other, But how can this be achieved? How can the questions and concerns of stakeholders and spokespersons be taken into account in the investigation of environmental impacts? How and when should the information from an environmental assessment be reintroduced into the participation process? We co-organised an informative meeting on these topics with the consultancy firm Korbee & Hovelynck at which it emerged that there is much demand for a practical manual. We therefore produced the factsheet Participatie en milieueffectrapportage (Participation and environmental assessment). In 2017, we are organising more informative events and are presenting an infographic that clearly shows the interaction between the various phases of participation and of environmental assessment.

Advisory reports international

  • Country activities
  • Regional activities

Advisory reports international

Environmental assessment for integrated water management in Rwanda

IMost provinces in Rwanda are not yet experiencing water shortage, but good planning is required because of the high population density and growing economy. Integrated water management has been adopted as a new policy: it must ensure a sustainable and fair distribution of water in the various catchments. The Netherlands is assisting in the creation of the new water plans. For this, a strategic environmental assessment is required, to properly identify the issues that must be considered jointly with the stakeholders in the area. The NCEA is coaching the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority in this procedure.

Capacity development for sustainable oil and gas exploitation in Zanzibar

In 2014, with the prospect of exploration of oil and gas fields looming, the government of Zanzibar realised that their environmental assessment procedures were insufficient to guarantee sustainable exploitation. The NCEA is therefore supporting the Zanzibar's Environmental Management Authority to improve these procedures. In 2016, we focused attention specifically on:

  • public participation in the environmental assessment process;
  • improving regulations on environmental assessment;
  • two well-attended seminars on the importance and added value of environmental assessment.

Consequences of climate change for Sao Tomé and Principe

As Sao Tomé is vulnerable for climate change, the local government wants to strengthen existing coastal defences. To make this possible, a project has been developed with support from the Develop2Build (D2B) facility. Under local legislation and in order to meet the IFC Performance Standards, an environmental assessment must be carried out for this project. The NCEA is advising D2B on how this environmental assessment can be optimally integrated into the project development.

China and the Netherlands are learning from each other

Infrastructure is being rapidly developed in China. In order to guarantee sustainable development in the long term, China carries out strategic environmental assessments, and now has much experience in this area. The same is true for the Netherlands, so an exchange of knowledge between the two countries is very valuable. During a recent workshop in Beijing, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and the NCEA presented the Dutch experiences. The Chinese showed particular interest in the role of environmental assessment when creating integral plans, such as under the Environmental Planning Act.

International activities and advisory reports issued in 2016

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

Advisory reports by the Dutch Sustainability Unit (DSU)

26 Advisory reports on scoping/review EA reports, legislation and the EA process
12 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

Safeguarding water
Safeguards sustainable investments
What impact do we have?
Environmental assessment contributes to achieving climate targets
Environmental assessment mandatory for many investments in developing countries

Themes international

Safeguarding water

Safeguarding access to safe and sufficient supplies of water is at the heart of Dutch development cooperation. But what if water is scarce and there are competing interests? How can proper consideration be assured in decision-making? Should water for irrigation take precedence over water for hydropower and drinking water supply? Should water go to the rich or the poor? Or can all these be accommodated? Here, environmental assessment, particularly at strategic level, is helpful. In 2016, the NCEA gave advice on decision-making to do with large dams and in relation to plans for integrated water management in, among others, Kenya and Rwanda.

Safeguards sustainable investments

As environmental assessment is important in the quality systems of all development banks and credit insurers in the Netherlands and elsewhere, it is mandatory for all their large projects. Environmental assessment ensures that the environment and social issues are given due attention and that the voices of all those involved are heard. On request, the NCEA assesses the quality of the process and content of environmental assessments and strengthens the environmental assessment capacity of public authorities in countries important to the Netherlands. Sometimes the NCEA also advises on the quality of the quality systems themselves: for example, those of the World Bank and of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Environmental assessment contributes to achieving climate targets

How can we ensure that environmental assessment is used as an important instrument to integrate the repercussions of climate change into decision-making? To answer this question, we produced a publication comprising case studies from around the world. The case studies reveal that environmental assessment contributes to mitigation and adaptation by assessing 1) susceptibility to climate change; 2) whether the project or plan fits into policy on climate; and 3) the climate-robust alternatives.

Environmental assessment for investments abroad is increasing

Why is environmental assessment in developing countries becoming more important for Dutch companies? Because Dutch development cooperation focuses on aid and trade. More funds are being made available for financing private investments that are relevant for development. Companies can submit proposals to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency on their own or jointly with public sector parties. For many of these investments, an environmental assessment is required. At the request of the Agency, the NCEA provides support for this in the form of advice and training.

What impact do we have?

What do we actually achieve through our work? Can decision-makers make better-informed decisions? Do plans become more sustainable? Are environmental assessment guidelines actually used in practice? These are among the questions addressed in the impact evaluations we carried out in 2016. In general, the conclusions were very positive. In Kenya, in the Tana delta, for example, we recommended an integrated approach for strategic environmental assessment for delta planning. This approach is now being applied in other deltas. But evaluations also reveal what can be better; this enables us to improve our working method.


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Presentations and workshops in the Netherlands - In Dutch

  • Advisering door de Commissie m.e.r. voor klankbordgroep Windpark in Oss
  • Workshop Alles over het milieueffectrapport. Schakeldag, Den Bosch
  • Basiscursus Milieurecht, Geoplan, Amsterdam
  • Bijdrage aan bijeenkomsten Omgevingswet van I&M
  • Cursus M.e.r.-beoordeling, Berghauser Pont, Utrecht
  • Gezondheid in ruimtelijke planvorming, Werkconferentie Atlas leefomgeving, Den Bosch
  • How alternatives on strategic level contribute to sound decision making in the Netherlands. Workshop on the application and effectiveness of the SEA Directive, Brussel
  • Nederlandse ervaringen met m.e.r. en offshore wind op de Noordzee. Workshop met Japans ministerie van milieu, Utrecht
  • Netwerkbijeenkomsten Maak ruimte voor gezondheid, Utrecht
  • Omgevingsvisie en m.e.r. Schakeldag, Den Bosch
  • Ontgrondingen en m.e.r., Vakberaad vergunningverleners ontgrondingen, Utrecht
  • Participatie en m.e.r. Rijkswaterstaat, Omgevingsmanagersdag, Utrecht
  • Ronde Tafel gesprek Tweede Kamer over AmvB's Omgevingswet, Den Haag
  • Themabijeenkomst Energietransitie en milieueffectrapportage, Utrecht
  • Themabijeenkomst Omgevingsvisies en milieueffectrapportage, Utrecht
  • Themabijeenkomst Participatie en milieueffectrapportage. Diverse presentaties, Utrecht
  • Themabijeenkomst Ruimte voor klimaatadaptatie in milieueffectrapportage, Utrecht
  • Workshop over m.e.r. voor RUD Zeeland en Zeeuwse gemeenten, Middelburg
  • Workshop Klimaatadaptatie en milieueffectrapportage, Utrecht
  • Workshop Klimaatmitigatie en milieueffectrapportage, Utrecht
  • Workshop Omgevingsvisie en m.e.r., Utrecht
  • Environmental assessment and cumulative effects. Symposium Cumulative Effects in Marine Ecosystems, Waddenacademie

Presentations and workshops International

  • Facilitation of brainstorm session - future ESPOO Convention and SEA protocol. Economic Commission for Europe; Geneva, Switzerland
  • Workshop ESIA & amp; SEA for oil exploration and production, in collaboration with Norad's Oil for Development Programme, Havana, Cuba
  • Several presentations of case studies and experiences during ITP SEA training programme, SIDA/NIRAS; Stockholm, Zweden
  • Organisation, presentation and facilitation SEA side event during the 8th Europian ministerial conference on the subject of "environment in Europe"
  • Presentation The role of SEA in achieving Green Economy - the global perspective and the experience of the NCEA; Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Facilitation of Hong Kong Seminar on International EIA Systems, organised by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD); Hong Kong.
  • Several presentations for the World Bank ECA Safeguard Team, like for instance The NCEA system approach to ESIA/SEA capacity development; EIA mapping en SEA for the Dutch 'Room for River' project; Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • resentation Dutch SEA procedure and experience during SEA conference Dissemination of SEA Experience organised by the Russian Ministry for Natural Resources and the Environment, WWF, UNDP, UNECE, GEF; Moscow, Russia.
  • Several presentations during the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)-conference 2016; Aichi-Nagoya, Japan.
    • Keynote presentation: Climate change in Impact Assessment good practice cases
    • Presentation Relevance of SEA for the Chinese One Belt One Road
  • Presentation in the context of BuZa Land Governance Multistakeholder Dialogue on the outcomes of the ESIA for port developments and land governance project; The Hague, the Netherlands
  • Presentation Impact assessment in the Netherlands and the role of the NCEA for a delegation of the Chinese Department for Environmental Protection, Hubei Provence; Utrecht, the Netherlands

Presentations and workshops as part of country activities / current programmes

  • Presentation of case studies and NCEA procedures during a 3-day training programme about SEA, supported by SIDA / NIRAS - organised by NEMA; Nairobi, Kenia.
  • Presentation en facilitation of a series of workshops on the subject of Catchment planning and SEA; Rwanda.
  • Presentation about the added value of SEA at a forum on the subject of the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development project; Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Presentation The benefit of EIA in controversial projects, prepared for an Indonesian delegation of the The Presidents Office; Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • Several presentations as part of the m.e.r.capacity development programme in Zanzibar, among other things about public participation in ESIA and the new EIA legislation in Zanzibar.
  • Presentations during national seminar Making EIA work for Zanzibar, Unguja island and Pemba island, Zanzibar
  • Presentation and facilitation of a workshop on ESIA for waste water treatment facilities, Kigali, Rwanda
  • Presentations during the seminar on international SEA practice and opportunities for Benin, for ministries, municipalities, NGOs and consultants; Cotonou, Benin.
  • Several workshops and trainings on, among others, ESIA and IFC performance standards for RVO teams responsible for financial facilities for private investment abroad, The Hague, the Netherlands.
  • Presentations at the annual meeting of the NCEA - DGIS, e.g. Sustainability Thinking: International Developments
  • NCEA systems approach to ESIA & SEA capacity development, for IUCN Shared Resources Joint Solutions team; Amsterdam, the Nederlands


40 employees per 31 December 20162715121385

Experts who participated in NCEA's working groups in 2016 10247

Employees per 31 december 2016


Members and advisors who participated in NCEA's working groups in 2016

The Netherlands

  • Mr R. Aagten
  • 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 van den Berg
  • Mr G.J. van Blokland
  • Mr P.L. de Boer
  • Mr Bokma
  • Mr P. van der Boom
  • 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 C.J. Hemker
  • Mr P. Hoekstra
  • Mr J.A. Huizer
  • Mr S.R.J. Jansen
  • Mr W.H.A.M. Keijsers
  • Mr R.J. van Kerkhoff
  • Mr H.J. Kingma
  • Mr R.J.M. Kleijberg
  • Mr M.A. Kooiman
  • Mr J.A.M.M. Kops
  • Mr J.E.M. Lax
  • Mr A. van Leerdam
  • Mr J.J.A. van Leeuwen
  • Ms Y.J. van Manen
  • Mr H.J. Meurs
  • Mr G.W.N.M. van Moorsel
  • Mr H. Otte
  • Mr M.J.F. van Pelt
  • Mr B.P.A. Peters
  • Mr M.M.J. Pijnenburg
  • Ms A.J. Pikaar
  • Mr J. Renes
  • 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 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 G. de Zoeten
  • Ms L. Besselink
  • Mr A.J. Bliek
  • Mr W. Blom
  • Mr L.D. Boom
  • Mr A. J. F. Brinkmann
  • Mr H.S. Buijtenhek
  • Mr G.B. Dekker
  • 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
  • Ms L. Geelen
  • Mr J. Goudeseune
  • Mr H.R.G.K. Hack
  • Mr W. Hoeve
  • Mr J. Hugtenburg
  • Ms Z. Jager
  • Mr R.B. Jongejan
  • Mr M. Klinge
  • Mr J.L. Kloosterman
  • Mr Y.S. Kok-Palma
  • Mr H.D. Koppen
  • Mr H. Ligteringen
  • Mr H. van Londen
  • Mr H. van Niekerk
  • Mr B.W.G. van Pagée
  • Mr J.L.P.M. van der Pluijm
  • Mr T. Prins
  • Mr R.H. Schokker
  • Mr F. Schokking
  • Mr C.P. Slijpen
  • Mr R.C.G.M. Smetsers
  • Mr E.R. Snijders
  • Mr S. Teeuwisse
  • Mr L.F.A. Theuws
  • Ms M.L. Verspui
  • Mr J.A. Wiersma


  • Mr G.J. Abbink
  • Mr T.J. Achterbosch
  • Mr G.J. Akkerman
  • Mr D. Annandale
  • Mr C. Arnould
  • Mr M.A.P.M. van Asseldonk
  • Mr N.J. Bech
  • Ms A. Beekmans
  • Mr P.S. Bindraban
  • Mr M.G. Bos
  • Mr H. Breman
  • Mr J.P. van Dessel
  • Mr G. Gavardashvili
  • Mr G.C. de Gooijer
  • Mr J.G. Grijsen
  • Mr J. Hartmann
  • Mr W.H.G.J Hennen
  • Ms M.C.C. Hermans
  • Ms T. van Ingen
  • Mr F. Jongsma
  • Ms D. Joshi
  • Mr A. Keizer
  • Mr J.J. Kessler
  • Mr P.C. de Koning
  • Mr M. Khurtsidze
  • Mr V.P.A. de Lange
  • Mr H.J. Lof
  • Mr H.R.J. van Maanen
  • Mr G.L.I. Madzous
  • Mr J.R.J. Mercier
  • Mr R. Robelus
  • Mr J.A. Roelvink
  • Mr R. Ruben
  • Mr K. Samoura
  • Ms L. van Schaik
  • Ms M. van Schaik
  • Mr J. Skinner
  • Ms M.A. Slingerland
  • Mr R. Slootweg
  • Mr J.P. van Soest
  • Mr H.E.M. Stassen
  • Mr A. Verhagen
  • Mr M. Vis
  • Mr W.A.M. Vlemmix
  • Ms K. Warner, PhD
  • Mr H. Zigterman
  • Mr L. Zwarts


3.240.403 the Netherlands

1.873.525 International-DGIS / Ministry of Foreign Affairs

167.480 International - other

Financial statements 2016


Mission statement

The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment is an independent advisory body of experts. It provides advisory services and capacity development to national and international governments on the quality of environmental assessment and thereby hopes to contribute to sound decision making. The NCEA's extensive knowledge of environmental assessment is available to everyone.