Environmental impact assessments
Environmental impact assessment perhaps more than any other toll empowers the people of the Netherlands to have input in environmental decision making in coastal matters. There is an elaborate rule of the order of projects that cannot be executed unless a satisfactory environmental impact assessment is done. Under such laws, the people are to be consulted, notices are to be placed, public hearing are to be conducted and the result must be made known in a readable format. The result gives an indication of what methods were used in conducting the assessments, the alternatives to executing the project, including the zero alternatives, which is the situation if nothing is done. Also to be considered in the impact assessment is the nature and mode of compensation of people that may suffer harm as a result of the execution of the project. The set up of an EIA, the drafts and final reports can be discussed in public. In that way the people are extensively involved in planning execution and monitoring of the project. Environmental impact covers policies, regulations and projects.
- Public Hearing
It was stated before that public opinion had an enormous effect on government decision in the past. This experience perhaps more than the legal provisions has been the greatest facilitator in pushing government in search of consensus in coastal management. Governments have learned that there is no use spending a lot of time and money planning a project only to have your plans opposed to the point that you cannot implement it by the general public. It is wiser to carry the public along even from the decision making stage. In coastal management public hearing is very common in the Netherlands especially for projects that are perceived to have effect on a wide range of the inhabitants. Whenever an important measure is to be taken, a public hearing can be organized before the final decision is made.
- Notice and comment procedures
Every coastal municipality in The Netherlands has a public complaint department. The department has an environmental desk, taking records of the views of members of the public who wish to react to any of the items or proposals published in the newspapers or newsletters. The municipalities take the responsibility of taking up the parts of the views that has to do with an industry and inform the person on the outcome of its deliberations with the company within four weeks. This method has gone along way in building confidence in the local people and giving them the impression that they are part and parcel of the administration. The fact that the coastal municipality is obliged to inform them of the outcome of the deliberation makes them know that they will be taken seriously when they go to the municipality with their complaint. If complaints keep coming in a particular direction, the government can decide to hold public discussion and to decide on what action to take.