Country profile - Distinguishing factors (Netherlands)
Until October 2010, environmental policy in the Netherlands was developed and implemented by the Ministry of Housing, Spatial planning and the Environment (VROM), and more specifically by the Directorate-General Environmental. VROM’s mission was to establish favourable conditions for pleasant living, working, recreation and transportation within the Netherlands. To achieve its mission, the Ministry developed regulations and stimulated the population, actively seeking involvement of citizens and business representatives in establishing rules and regulations (see also: http://international.vrom.nl/pagina.html?id=37489 ). In October 2010, DG Environment and the Ministry of Transport and Water Management merged into the new Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.
The Dutch Ministry for the environment closely cooperates with international governments and administrations at regional and municipal levels. The Dutch Government decides on national issues. Provincial and municipal councils have their own decision-making power at regional and local levels. National policy naturally restricts the powers of these local administrations. The principle, however, is to keep decision-making powers as close as possible to the local level, promoting participative democracy. Large parts of national environmental policy have been decentralised. This means, for instance, that provincial councils are responsible for the execution of national policies on waste, groundwater management, and for providing environmental permits for large companies. District water boards are responsible for wastewater treatment and chemical and ecological water quality. Municipal councils have been made responsible for national policies on public safety, noise, odour, and local air quality (see also: http://international.vrom.nl/pagina.html?id=37560 ).