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Advices 2005

2005/05 Natural Authority An administrative model for the Wadden Sea

2005/05 Natural Authority An administrative model for the Wadden Sea

BETTER ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT NEEDED FOR WADDEN SEA

The Dutch government needs to take more active steps to protect the natural environment in and around the Wadden Sea. To that end, the minister responsible for nature conservation should be put in charge of strategic policy on the Wadden Sea, with the municipalities, and water authorities engage in joint consultations on the Wadden Sea without there being any specific competent authority with final responsibility. This approach leads to inconsistent ad hoc policy, which is not in the best interests of the natural environment and creates uncertainty among those who make use of the area.

These are the views of the Wadden Sea Council [Raad voor de Wadden] and the Public Administration Council [Raad voor het openbaar bestuur] in a jointly published advisory report - Natural Authority. An administrative model for the Wadden Sea [Natuurlijk Gezag. Een bestuurlijk model voor de Waddenzee] - which they presented to the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, Sybilla Dekker, on 12 January 2006.
In their report, the two Councils (which advise the Dutch government and parliament) point out that the Wadden Sea is currently managed as a spatial planning area. Policy on the area attempts to balance economics, spatial, recreational and environmental interests against one another, without giving precedence to any one interest. However, EU directives and the new Nature Conservation Act [Natuurbeschermingswet] mean that this is no longer possible: environmental considerations must now take precedence, with other activities only being permitted according to spatial planning principles. According to the two Councils, that situation urgently needs to change.

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2005/01 Trilateral for the Future: towards a stronger trilateral partnership

2005/01 Trilateral for the Future: towards a stronger trilateral partnership

On the request of the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), the Council has published an advisory document on a number of important matters at trilateral level. Those matters concern trilateral cooperation aspects, the construction of wind farms in the North Sea and the role of the scientific symposium. In addition to the above, the Council has set out in the advice its position concerning the nomination of the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site.

Trilateral cooperation aspects
In keeping with the Minister's request, the Council has updated the Wadden Advisory Council's advice on trilateral cooperation (July 2000), in which an analysis of the trilateral cooperation is made. The onset that the Ministry of LNV has given to improving the communication with residents and organisations on the trilateral Wadden Sea policy is a favourable development, but this will have to be done in a more structured manner.
The Wadden Sea Forum (WSF), in which the stakeholders and public authorities have jointly developed prospects for sustainable development in the area, has proven to be a good way of involving residents and users in the trilateral cooperation.
The Wadden Sea countries are responsible for ensuring that the recommendations that have been made are implemented with the aid of the Wadden Sea Forum. For that reason, the WSF should be extended for a further period of four years.
The trilaterally formulated policy must serve as the starting point for the formulation of (additional) national policy in the three Wadden Sea countries. That will increase the transparency of the Wadden Sea policy, which in turn will increase support for the policy. It is important to harmonise the implementation of a number of EU Directives at trilateral level. This is necessary to ensure that the trilateral agreements are implemented consistently.
The Wadden Sea plan, accompanied by an action programme, must be given a central role in the Declaration of a Governmental Conference. That will give the Wadden Sea Plan a more obligatory nature and will clarify who is to be held to account in the event of non-compliance. The Council takes the view that the desirability of a further-reaching and more obligatory cooperation at trilateral level should be expressed in the Schiermonnikoog Governmental Declaration. The various options in that regard can be mapped out in the period leading up to the next Governmental conference.

The placing of wind farms in the North Sea within the preconditions of the objectives for the Wadden Sea
No pronouncement is made in the advice about the construction of onshore wind turbines. The advice concentrates on the placing of wind farms in the North Sea within the preconditions of the objectives for the Wadden Sea, as requested by the Minister.
There is not yet any question of a coordinated and integrated approach at trilateral level concerning how to incorporate wind farms. The Minister of LNV - and his fellow-ministers in Germany and Denmark - must ensure that existing agreements are complied with and that an integral plan is formulated for the placing of wind farms in the North Sea that could have an external effect that extends to the trilateral cooperation region. In relation to the above, it is desirable to underline the Wadden Sea Forum's recommendation for a trilaterally coordinated spatial planning procedure for the Exclusive Economic Zone and to elaborate it in a trilateral context.

Regarding the incorporation of wind farms in the landscape and their impact on nature, requirements should be formulated regarding the location and construction of wind farms in the North Sea on the basis of the test framework of the Birds and Habitats Directive. This must be worked out in more detail in a trilateral context. With regard to the impact on the landscape, wind farms in the North Sea must not result in the obstruction of views from the Wadden islands on the basis of existing policy. The scenic qualities of the trilateral cooperation area and the bordering coastal area must therefore be included in the trilateral decision-making process on the construction of wind farms.
The decision on the large-scale use of sustainable energy should not be made until the (harmful) effects on the one hand and the social usefulness on the other can be considered on the basis of objective and scientifically substantiated arguments, resulting in a framework for the realisation of sustainable energy in the Wadden Sea region.

Scientific symposium 
The Council concludes in its advice that there is (still) a role to be played by the Scientific Symposium in the preparatory process for the Governmental Conference. The scientific symposium must result in clear and unequivocal recommendations in the direction of policy, administration and management. This is however subject to the condition that there is a clear division between the scientific discussion, the policy and managerial translation of scientific conclusions and the political-social discussion in the preparation and course of the symposium and in the translation into recommendations for the Governmental Conference. It is recommended in this context that the Quality Status Report (QSR), which is drawn up once every four years - usually voluntarily by the scientists involved - and provides insight into the evaluation of the Objectives of the Wadden Sea Plan, be given formal status as scientific input for the scientific symposium. Other than that, the scientific symposium should be planned in such a way in relation to the Governmental Conference that the conclusions can still be effectively translated into recommendations for the Governmental Conference. Finally, a trilateral working group comprising independent scientists and governmental representatives must be instituted to carry out that translation. An analysis of various instruments, such as the national progress reports, etc., should be carried out in order to further strengthen the role of research. This can be taken as the basis for ascertaining whether further adjustments to the way in which the research is organised are required. Finally, it will also be necessary to seek connection with the most recent developments in this area, both within and outside of the Wadden Region.

World heritage nomination
The Council believes that it is no more than logical for - preferably the entire trilateral - Wadden Sea to be nominated for inclusion in the world heritage list. It can be regarded as added value if the State ensures that a sound infrastructure for public information and education is created in and around the area and that sufficient resources are made available to maintain that infrastructure. The approach the Minister of LNV has taken to the concerns in the area in the form of preparing an agreement is greatly appreciated. It is however necessary for the agreement to be signed by the relevant authorities (State, provinces and municipalities) and by the various relevant interest groups in the area. To dispel any further concerns, it is desirable to provide access to the nomination file that serves as the basis for the nomination and the eventual inclusion on the world heritage list. Finally, the Council highlights the importance of continuing to work on gaining support in the future. 

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