1. The use of risk assessment and management in environmental regulation in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, risk management approaches were first introduced in the 1986-1990 Programme for Environmental Management of the Dutch Government. This concept of risk management recognised the importance of an "effects-oriented approach" (e.g., environmental quality standards and effects standards) in addition to a "source-orientated approach" (e.g., emission standards based on the best available techniques not entailing excessive cost (BATNEEC)). The risk management policy sets out criteria for judging risks of technological hazards based on the following concepts:

  • That a maximum acceptable level of risk can be identified which should not be exceeded irrespective of the economic or social benefit that could result from the activity under consideration.
  • That a negligible risk level can be identified at which it not sensible to try to reduce the risk further.
  • That between these two levels the risk should be reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable (ALARP).

The risk criteria deriving from such a policy are laid out explicitly in 'Premises for Risk Management' which is part of the National Environmental Plan (Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment, 1991).

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