Legislative EA in the Netherlands: The E-Test as a Strategic and Integrative Instrument
Marsden, S, Legislative EA in the Netherlands: The E-Test as a Strategic and Integrative Instrument, European Environment: The Journal of European Environmental Policy, 9, (3) pp. 90-100. ISSN 0961-0405 (1999) [Refereed Article]
Environmental assessment (EA) in the Netherlands is carried out under the provisions of the Environmental Management Act 1993-96 (EMA) and the Environmental Test 1995 (the E-test). The former is applicable to policies, plans, programmes (PPPs) and projects, the latter to legislative proposals. The purpose of this paper is to present an independent evaluation of the E-test. By applying the E-test to legislative proposals, sustainable development is significantly advanced; PPPs and projects are implemented by legislation that has been assessed before enactment and environmental and economic impacts are assessed together. Combining aspects of both strategic and integrated EA, the E-test is therefore an important example of legislative environmental assessment (legislative EA). The paper begins by distinguishing strategic, integrated and legislative EA, and describing the relationship between PPPs, projects and legislation. A description of the evolution of the E-test follows, together with the legislative process to which it applies. Implementation of the E-test and available procedural guidance are outlined, together with the related Business Effects Test (BET). Experience with the E-test is then considered, and compliance with six important procedural principles analysed. It is concluded that because legislative proposals are assessed, the E-test analyses impacts at the most strategic time; and because of the close links between the E-test and BET, environmental and economic impacts are well integrated. However greater compliance with procedural principles would enhance the process; and for legislative EA to fully contribute to sustainable development, the social dimension must also be addressed.