March 2005
Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy & Management;Mar2005, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p51
Academic Journal
This article discusses recent developments in integrated planning for the national road infrastructure in the Netherlands. It lays emphasis on project definition as a "missing link" between strategic planning and operational planning. Road development projects may have considerable negative impacts. Projects, however, are often too narrowly focused on road (re)construction alternatives and pay too less attention to the relationships with other spatial developments. As a consequence, the scope of project Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) is too narrow and opportunities are missed to enhance the spatial and environmental quality of the regions concerned. These problems are best tackled early in the planning process when the "degrees of freedom" in shaping the project are relatively large. Using the case of the A27 motorway a new guideline for explorative studies is introduced. The instrument described (called "reconnaissance study") aims to connect the planning arenas of Strategic Environmental Assessment and EIA, thus achieving more sustainable planning. It focuses on the early stage of project development in which the scope of projects is defined by "zooming in" from the national to a regional setting and translation of abstract policy goals to a "real world" situation. Key elements are a transparent process in which problem analysis and development of solutions are seperated, involvement of external parties and a broad study scope.


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