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Riley: Approaching space is the "last chance for the provinces"

Riley: Approaching space is the “last chance for the provinces”

Rli’s latest report “Give direction, give way!” It identifies many of the spatial challenges facing the Netherlands. So is the arsenal of visions, programs, regional deals, and other tools now built to accomplish this mission. The number of governing bodies (state, county, district, municipality) that are involved in different contexts is impressive. And However it hardly helped. Public spaces are becoming crowded and the solution to issues such as energy transition, housing construction and the nitrogen problem is only in its infancy. It turns out that your dream New Holland is a huge mystery. is she in a A complicated puzzle, perhaps?

“At the moment when this puzzle is very complex, there is also a shared aspiration to simplify,” says council member and former director of VNG Jantine Kriens, who chaired the Rli committee that wrote the advice. “And this advice is definitely.”
“As the Netherlands, we’re not really big enough,” adds Jan Jaap de Greve, president of Rli. With the allocation of housing thirty or forty years ago, there was much more space. Another complicating factor is the relationship between government and citizens and – within government – between the various levels of government. But you still have to try to piece together this puzzle, although success is not guaranteed.

For a long time this whole puzzle seemed superfluous. At the turn of the century, the empire proved that Holland was more or less complete. The remaining issues can be left with confidence to the provinces and municipalities.
Krens: “Looking back, this thinking is very naive. Soon, I saw the new developments and tasks that were on our way. And then you have to ask yourself whether the sum of decentralized efforts actually produces the Netherlands we want. Then you quickly risk thinking about wave motions. So yeah, focus on centering again. This is a very easy way. The way the Netherlands is currently developing is exactly a way in which you have to take the power of all regions and communities with you.

The National Environmental Vision (NOVI) was to become a guiding tool, and a stepping stone to which all those decentralized efforts could be attached. But the NOVI book is largely non-binding, you write.
Krens: “You’re going to have to make candid choices in various areas. You have to translate the resulting goals into regions and districts. If you don’t, you’re sitting around the table with each other on all sorts of levels. Then no one can hold each other accountable and everyone is in every Place We advocate NOVI-plus where these options are identified and linked to goals at the regional level.
De Graeff: National goals need to be made more realistic in NOVI-plus. You then have to divide these goals over different parts of our country.

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You give districts a much bigger role in making plans.
Krens: ‘I once said to the provinces: This is your last chance. This sounds a little harsh, but that’s what I really think. They have enough spatial tools at their disposal, but they will now have to start using them. Also in relation to different regions. Not from: As counties we have the power of perseverance and we arrange them as such. Well, no. But if you have agreed to contribute regions, then you can keep them.

How do we ensure that counties actually fulfill this role?
KRINS: I think the debate in the county lands is now also moving in that direction. They also know how to exert this influence on the government. You will have to make some progress with the available national knowledge, so that it is also more accessible to the provinces and regions. Nowadays, this knowledge is often only in the hands of the government. And that the strength of decentralization is strengthened. This is a shock that we experienced in our conversations. How important is it to strengthen the decentralized executive authority?
De Graeff: “If the resources were available in formation for agriculture and nitrogen issues, I would have really funneled them to the provinces. This is an immediate opportunity for the county government to take on this new role. Outsourcing by the government for very concrete tasks, that would be very good for us.”

Several paragraphs were devoted to citizen participation in the advisory report. One conclusion is that the democratic consideration in the municipal council always outweighs the outcome of the citizens’ forums.
Krens: “You cannot take citizens’ knowledge and design capabilities seriously enough. However, in the end, it is all about the democratic balancing of interests and decision-making in the council. You have to be clear about this in advance with every engagement.

Are the citizens still happy with that?

Krens: “We obviously also see polarization. But this is not a reason to avoid citizen participation. Quite the contrary. This should be a reason to facilitate discussion.
De Greve: It is not a matter of fruitfully eliminating resistance from citizen participation. new. This resistance keeps coming back. However I think you should look for common values ​​in each region or province. At the level of environmental visibility, you can have an open conversation with people. What do you think is important, nothing less? This broader discussion helps. Be sure not to fix the conversation beforehand on one windmill or that solar garden. In a broader conversation, it seems that people are not opposed to change up front at all. But they want to be able to understand it and think with them.

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What are the three things that need to be addressed in the short term so that an unread report does not disappear in a drawer?

Krens: The state has to take over. With a Minister for Space and a sub-council where other ministries can also contribute to their programmes. Second: Strengthening the strength of implementation at all levels. with operational resources, but also with knowledge fed from government. And the third step: you need to engage citizens more seriously in the discussion. And think about how participatory processes are linked to democratic legitimacy.
de Greve: Can I add a fourth? Take your landscaping tools out of the closet again. The tasks of the non-urban area are now stacked on top of each other. The great thing about land development is that you group the mission into a specific area, so you don’t have to visit all the farmers over and over again. If you come once for the nitrogen column and after one year for the health of the animal, the farmer will say: “You have been here recently, haven’t you?”. Shop as a goverment in one go. Otherwise, everyone will go crazy.

Isn’t the central issue of the advice that the impacts on local quality of life should carry significant weight in every spatial initiative?
Krenz: That’s the gist for me. No more sectoral approach, however: Does it all benefit us? If we have brave administrators who dare to stand by her, we will succeed.
De Greiff: If we don’t try to solve the puzzle, it’s going to be a mess. Which we are already seeing a bit of happening.