Innovations in governance: balancing air quality and road development

Research output: Other contributionPopular


Research shows that air pollution poses a considerable threat to human health. In addition to this, in the Netherlands, air quality issues were especially a hot topic because they held back spatial and infrastructure projects. Many stand-alone infrastructure projects could not comply with air quality regulations. The limited scope of projects restricted the options to directly compensate the negative impact on air quality. Consequently, transport infrastructure planning reached a deadlock situation. To break through this deadlock the National Cooperation programme on Air Quality (Dutch abbreviation: NSL) was developed. On programme level, projects were connected with (source-related) measures taken on national, provincial and municipal level. By balancing projects and mitigating measures the programme should ensure that the European standards will be met. Compared to the traditional project orientation of infrastructure and environmental planning, the programme show two novelties. First, rather than focussing on a specific link, the programme focuses on the total infrastructure network. Second, the scope is no longer only focused on road development, but the programme also focuses on the environment of each project, taking the whole area into account. However, such a programmatic approach is relatively new in infrastructure and environmental planning. On the basis of a case study in the NSL we aim to gain more insight in this programmatic approach. We followed the programme during multiple years and conducted several rounds of interviews with important stakeholders on national, provincial and municipal level. In these interviews we focused particularly on institutional and governance issues. Our analysis shows that different modes of governance are applied in planning practice. At the same time it becomes clear that governing a programme in one specific way seems to cause problems. A coordinative mode of governance can be seen as too stringent, while a cooperative mode of governance is often too permissive. Therefore, on the basis of our analysis we suggest a mix of governance modes in order to bring a programme successfully to conclusion.
Original languageEnglish
TypeConference contribution
PublisherProcedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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