Fall in number of advisory reports continued in 2019
In 2019 the NCEA issued in The Netherlands 130 advisory reports: the lowest number since 1992 (when the NCEA issued 143 reports) and about one third of the number of reports issued on average in the years 2008-2010. Since 2010 there has been an almost continuous decline. In the two years prior to 2019, for example, 144 advisory reports were issued in 2018 and 168 advisory reports in 2017.
Mandatory versus non-mandatory advisory reports
Of the 130 advisory reports issued in 2019, 45 were mandatory advisory reviews and 85 were non-mandatory advisory reports on, for example, scoping.
The number of mandatory advisory reviews continues to fall: 45 in 2019, compared with 63 in 2018 and 84 in 2017 - nowhere near the almost 200 mandatory reviews in 2013.
In recent years, the number of non-mandatory advisory reports has been fairly stable, fluctuating around 80 per year.
Infrastructure projects up, water projects down
In 2019 there was a striking increase in the number of new infrastructure projects, including those for airfields: from two advisory reports in 2018 to nine in 2019. Meanwhile, water projects have plummeted: from 26 in 2018 to 12 in 2019 - probably because advisory reports for the Flood Protection Programme peaked in 2018.
The National Housing Agenda's ambitions to reduce the housing shortage are not reflected in the number of environmental assessment reports reviewed: 9 advisory reviews in 2019, compared with 13 in 2018 and as many as 26 in 2017. The current nitrogen problem and forthcoming Environment and Planning Act (in which additional obligations regarding EIA may also apply), are likely attributing factors.
Central government has taken virtually no account of residents' views
More support is given to a government decision if residents have a say and can submit their views about a proposal. We believe that our advisory reports gain in quality if we get insight into these views. In practice, however, just over 50 percent of central, provincial or local governments choose to allow us to take account of residents' views. A striking detail is that - except in the case of large-scale energy projects - central government does hardly let us take any views into consideration. For us an important point to take action on in 2020.
Quality of Dutch environmental assessment reports worrisome: even after supplementation, only 60 percent were complete
Most of the environmental assessment reports reviewed in 2019 lacked important environmental information. This is worrying and is a continuation of the trend of recent years. In particular, information on impacts on Natura 2000 sites was missing from many reports. More environmentally friendly alternative solutions and impacts on the human environment such as air pollution and noise are also still receiving too little attention. In a third of the cases, reports lacking information were subsequently supplemented and then re-evaluated by us, after which 60% of the supplemented reports were complete.