project

Implications of the Environment and Planning Act

Expert(s):

  • Start date
  • End date
  • Principal
    Bedrijfstakonderzoek en Vewin
  • collaborating partners

The implementation of the Environment and Planning Act will create new opportunities to protect drinking water sources in regional area management. By means of interviews with local and regional authorities, the research will establish how provinces, municipalities, Water Authorities and execution services take the importance of source protection into account in their spatial-planning deliberations. The research will identify opportunities and bottlenecks, which could provide the basis for follow-up research into source protection under the Environment and Planning Act.

More deliberation space in regional area management

The implementation of the Environment and Planning Act extends the deliberation space of decentralised governments in spatial planning. The act shifts the emphasis in spatial planning from a ‘no, unless’ to a ‘yes, provided’ principle, thus offering more leeway for area-specific customisation. For the protection of drinking water sources this shift creates both opportunities and bottlenecks. The project will research the ways in which provinces, municipalities, Water Authorities and execution services take the importance of source protection into account in their spatial-planning deliberations. The findings will provide the basis to formulate leads to strengthen the connection of the drinking water sector to regional area management, and thereby preserve the importance of source protection into the future.

Interviews with local and regional authorities

By means of interviews with regional authorities (provinces, municipalities, Water Authorities and execution services), the research will establish how much weight these bodies currently give to source protection in regional, spatial-deliberation processes. The interviews will provide the basis to identify the opportunities and bottlenecks for source protection in a spatial-planning practice brought about by the Environment and Planning Act.

Opportunities and bottlenecks for source protection under the Environment and Planning Act

The Environment and Planning Act offers opportunities for source protection. The integrated approach taken in the act dovetails with the integrated nature of the challenges facing source management, which moreover frequently requires customised solutions. The Digital Systems Environment and Planning Act (DSO) also offers a chance to clarify and communicate the rules for source protection. But bottlenecks might also arise, for example, if the importance of source protection gets buried in integrated area deliberations. Tensions can also arise between the need for policy-anchoring of source protection in environmental visions and for flexibility for purposes of customisation. In addition, the further decrease in licence obligations reduces the level of monitoring and enforcement of the protection rules.

The research report will provide the basis for follow-up research, which could be more specifically targeted on the way in which drinking water companies can strengthen their connection to regional area management.