The contribution of Appropriate Assessments and Environmental Assessments to environmental protection in the Netherlands - A comparative analysis of the impact of two policy instruments on decision-making
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The growth of interest in the environment and sustainable development has resulted in the introduction of much new legislation to steer development in a more environmental friendly way. Environmental Assessment (EA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) are important tools in this respect. EAs aim to integrate the environment and its concerns into decision-making by providing information for Dutch Environmental Act (DEA) decision-making. AAs on the other hand are important instruments to integrate nature and its concerns into decision-making by supporting Dutch Nature Conservation Act (NCA) decision-making. EAs and AAs can be combined in the Netherlands. This can have some advantages like decreasing costs, avoiding double work and having all information on nature available in one report. However, since EAs and AAs are rather different instruments, also some difficulties can be expected, such as for instance problems in aligning the different instruments. In this research the impact of EAs, AAs and EA/AA combinations on decision-making in the Netherlands has been researched and explained in order to provide better insights in the implications of combining the two instruments. The impact of the three different instruments on decision-making in the Netherlands was determined by analyzing existing empirical researches and by doing helicopter interviews with experts in the EA/AA field. The results are explained according to six impact influencing factors: the flexibility of the instrument to fit into the decision-making context, stakeholder participation, transparency of the instrumental process and documents, the binding character of the instrument, the quality of the assessment and the openness of decision-makers to environment/nature. Overall, in practice AA-parts of EA/AA combinations are of added value for (and have an impact on) DEA decision-making. While EA-parts of EA/AA combinations hardly have an impact on NCA decision-making and are not of substantial added value for these decision-making procedures.