How the NCEA operates?
Under Dutch law, the time allowed for the NCEA to prepare a mandatory advisory report is, in principle, six weeks, calculated from the date that the EIA/SEA report is available for public inspection.
There is no statutory period for a voluntary advisory report. The competent authority and the secretary of the working group agree on a deadline, taking into account the competent authority’s project planning and whether or not public submissions are to be considered in the NCEA’s advice. The NCEA strives to meet a six-week deadline for voluntary advisory reports too.
The NCEA’s advice is always prepared by a working group consisting of a chairperson, a technical secretary and several experts. For advisory services the working groups are tailor made, for the composition of which the secretariat can lean on a pool of several hundreds of experts. The members represent those disciplines relevant to the assessment that the working group is advising on.
The step-by-step procedure
- Once the availibility date of the EA report for public inspection is known, the NCEA should be informed that the project is imminent.
- Sufficient copies of the documentation must be registered with the NCEA no later than one day before the EIA or SEA report is publicly available, and preferably even earlier.
- In the case of voluntary advice, the NCEA must have received notification from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment of receipt of payment before the EIA/SEA report or scoping note are publicly available.
- The NCEA secretariat assembles a working group consisting of a chairperson, a technical secretary and a number of experts.
- The secretary to the working group establishes agreements with the competent authority on whether (and if so, when) the working group will visit the site and when the final discussion of the draft report will take place.
- If the planning proposal is new to the NCEA, the working group has to visit the site.
- Approximately one week before the deadline for the advisory report the NCEA sends the draft report, and invites the competent authority to meet with the working group. This meeting is not intended to negotiate the report’s wording but solely to address any ambiguities or misunderstandings.
- The advisory report (revised if necessary) is issued subsequent to the meeting and can be downloaded from the NCEA website thereafter. The competent authority will receive digital and paper versions of the report.
Submissions by the public
In the case of both voluntary and mandatory advisory reports the competent authority may request the NCEA to take account of submissions by the public in its advice. This is particularly useful if the proposed project is controversial, as local information from those involved as well as proposed alternatives will be evaluated objectively and impartially. The consideration of such submissions is not an optional extra and so no extra fee is involved. However, the NCEA will need more time to examine submitted comments, as they may result in new information being given to the working group after the deadline for submissions has passed. The extra time required depends on the anticipated number of submissions, but approximately three weeks is usually sufficient.