Milieubeleid onder dak? : beleidsvoeringsprocessen in het Nederlandse milieubeleid in de periode 1970 - 1990 : nader uitgewerkt voor de Gelderse Vallei

J. van Tatenhove

    Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


    The main subject of this study are the changes which have taken place in Dutch environmental policy during the period 1979-1990.
    Central questions in this study are:
    - How did the environmental policy field develop in relation to other policy fields in the period 1970-1990
    - In what way have environmental policy making and steering processes been influenced by the interactions between public and private actors and the perception of environmental problems?
    - How is environmental policy shaped in concrete policy situations? What effect has this process on environmental policy making and steering in general?

    In Chapter 2, the developments in Dutch environmental policy have been analyzed by the process of institutionalization. The first step in this process was the creation of a new Ministry of Public Health and the Environment in 1971. During the seventies, however, environmental policy making was inhibited by a double problem. On the one hand solutions had to be found for severe environmental problems and on the other hand the position of environmental policy in relation to other policy fields was unclear. This first phase of environmental policy formation was characterized by a 'struggle for independence'. Enlarging the autonomy of the Ministry of Public Health and the Environment and integrating the environmental perspective in policies of other ministries were the prime issues in this struggle. At the same time a great variety of sectoral legislation was adopted to overcome the most severe problems of air, water and soil pollution and (chemical) waste. The result of this struggle for independence was that the formation, implementation and enforcement of environmental policy were divided among different ministries, each of which dealt with different aspects of the environment. This 'fragmented institutionalization' of environmental policy was corroborated by the establishment of a new Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment during the formation of a new government in 1982. The drawbacks of this reallocation were that problems of integration between the different ministries became institutionalized and ministries with environmental tasks developed different environmental expertise.

    During the eighties the institutionalization of environmental policy was influenced by the drawbacks of fragmented institutionalization, by efforts to overcome problems of reduced effectiveness and by discussions about the role of the state. Instead of a reduction in state influence, a process was set in motion to intensify the relations between state and society. This process was stimulated by the environmental management approach, the central goal of which was to appeal to both the state's and the citizen's sense of responsibility. To realize this objective new relationships between private and public actors were stimulated. Initially introduced to make environmental policy more effective and efficient, these new relationships can also be seen as instruments to enlarge the sphere of environmental policymaking. In Chapter 3 strategies and environmental discourses are distinguished as structural elements of the policy making processes by which policy makers try to overcome the drawbacks of fragmented institutionalization during a period when the steering role of the state is in the process of change.

    The way the Ministry of Environment deals with integration problems is described from an analytical perspective in terms of three strategies. The 'break-in strategy' is applied by policy makers in order to get enviromnental perspectives and objectives accepted within other policy fields. To this end, different resources, such as public opinion, scientific research and enlisting the cooperation of the enviromnental movement are used. The 'societalization strategy' is directed towards a variety of target groups, which are located in policy fields like agriculture, industrial affairs and traffic. By contacting these groups directly, an attempt is made to bring about an 'internalization' of enviromnental perspectives among them and the impeding policy structures of other ministries can be skirted. Although the final goal is to prevent environmental pollution, this strategy also serves to strengthen the ministry's co-ordinating tasks by getting enviromnental goals accepted in the policy fields to which these target groups belong. Finally, the 'regionalization strategy' consists of introducing region-oriented environmental policy and involves a shift of administrative responsibilities from the national to regional and local levels. These strategies can led to counter-strategies. Therefore, in Chapter 3 the strategies adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture are highlighted. The assignment of the areas of nature conservation and recreation to the Ministry of Agriculture in 1982 led on the one hand to conflicts within the Ministry itself and between the Ministry of Agriculture and other ministries, farmers' organizations and new target groups, such as nature conservation organizations. These conflicts are reflected in encapsulating and keeping off strategies. On the other hand, the incorporation of nature conservation and recreation resulted in attempts to integrate these policy fields into agricultural developments. Multisectoral planning and integrated policy for rural areas are examples of the 'enbroadening strategy'.

    The process of fragmented institutionalization has also led to different forms of environmental expertise. When policy making takes place in situations of negotiation between mutual dependent public and private actors, policy makers do have a certain freedom of action. In this situation policy, they have to make abstract policy concept operational. In doing so, policy makers refer to environmental discourses. An enviromnental discourse is a symbolic order in which enviromnental pollution and protection are defined in a specific way, depending of the relation between social action and the physical environment. An important part of the environmental policy debate can be described by the 'societal- environmental discourse', the 'ecological-environmental discourse' and the 'spatial- environmental discourse'.

    Besides strategies and enviromnental discourses policy making processes are also structured by the different visions of steering in particular periods. Therefore in Chapter 4 three steering discourses have been distinguished. A steering discourse is an ideal-typical visions of public steering, deducted from ideal-typical interweaving of State and Society. In Chapter 4 the following steering discourses are distinguished: the 'steering government', the 'negotiating government' and the 'calculating government'. Each of these discourses are characterized by different relationships between autonomy and interdependence.

    The Central question in Part 11 of this study is how enviromnental policy making processes influenced by strategies and enviromnental and steering discourses? To answer this question a policy making theory is developed. When looking at developments in environmental policy, rational policy making theories are insufficient to analyze policy making processes, because policy processes are not linear evolving rational processes. Therefore, in Chapter 4 policy theories are studied in which the interactions between public and private actors are emphasized. The analysis of these contextual policy theories resulted in the three elements relevant to the study of policy making processes. These elements - interweaving (interaction, interdependence and strategies), power and reproduction - together with elements of the structuration theory are integrated in to a 'theory of environmental policy' (Chapter 5).

    In this theory policy making is defined as a power game and a reproduction process. On the level of interaction, policy making is an ongoing power game between policy makers as they define policy problems, select policy instruments and create a societal and political legitimation base. In this power game actors use rules and resources and these structure their actions. In enviromnental policy making processes, policy makers draw upon rules derived from environmental and steering discourses. These specific rules I have called environmental concepts and steering concepts. Environmental concepts are reconstructions of the environmental reality, giving actors a framework to define policy problems and possible solutions. The following enviromnental concepts are distinguished: 'Economic Sustenance Base', 'Societal Sustenance Base' (from the societal enviromnental discourse), 'Ecological Base', 'Ecological Integrity' (from the ecological environmental discourse), 'Societal Space' and 'Ecological Space' (from the spatial environmental discourse). Steering concepts give actors a first impression how to steer in policy practices. The following steering concepts referred to in Chapter 5 are derived from the steering discourses: general, situational, reflexive and transactional steering. By using strategies, environmental concepts and steering concepts it is possible to make the macro-context of policy making processes operational.

    A core element of the 'theory of enviromnental policy' is the process of reproduction or structuration. In this process structural elements of social systems are produced and reproduced in interaction. Policy making as a reproduction process can be described as follows: in defining policy problems and selecting instruments, policy makers draw upon rules (enviromnental and steering concepts) and resources. This power game can result in new definitions of the problems and possible solutions, while at the same time discourses and concepts are reproduced. By studying policy making as a reproduction process it is possible to pay attention to the unintended consequences and the characteristics of policy making contexts.

    In Part III of this study integrated region-oriented policy, in particulary the policy making process in the Gelderse Vallei, is studied. Integrated region-oriented policy is considered to be a framework of policy integration combining environmental and physical planning at the regional level. This policy concept reflects the changed relations between state and society. Although the initiative is in the hands of Public actors, actual policy measures are developed with private actors. In this process co-operation, negotiation and deliberation play a major role. The 'integrated region-oriented approach' can also be seen as a way of overcoming problems of internal and external integration. One of the main goals is to integrate different policy fields in regional development.

    In Chapter 7 the content of integrated region-oriented policy is described and this policy concept is analyzed with the strategies that have been identified earlier. There are two reasons why strategies appeared to be a suitable theoretical notion for studying policy making processes.

    First, integrated oriented policy is not only a policy concept to overcome severe environmental and spatial problems in a region, it can also be seen as a resource in the struggle between ministries seeking to enlarge or expand their policy domain. This strategic aspect can be analyzed by the strategies policy makers use. In Chapter 8 the introduction of integrated region-oriented policy is analyzed as a phase in 'the struggle for rural areas'. This led to the conclusion that the struggle for policy domains finds expression in the different policy concepts of both the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture. In terms of strategies this means that integrated region-oriented policy can be seen as a resource of the Ministry of environment. It provides a context for regionalization and sociatelization strategy which aims at gaining influence in rural areas. The policy concepts of the Ministry of Agriculture, such as 'strategic green projects' and 'valuable culturehistoric landscapes' are, however, resources in the enbroadening strategy.

    Second, with strategies it is possible to analyze the starting point of policy processes in their historical policy context. In other words strategies are the result of historical developments in policy fields, which are incorporated in the actions of policy makers.

    In Chapter 8, the start of the policy making process in the Gelderse Vallei is analyzed in terms of strategies. The Gelderse Vallei contains all the elements that make agricultural pollution a burning issue and provide agro-environmental policy-making with a major challenge. The poor structure of agrarian production, the concentration of intensive livestock farming and the position of agriculture between nature reserves has led to very severe enviromnental problems. Until the end of the eighties, initiatives to tackle environmental problems were frustrated. One of the reasons was the structure of agrarian production. Scientists and politicians agree that general environmental policy is insufficient to solve these problems. Supplementary policies are required to reach enviromnental, spatial and nature goals. The development of the regionalization strategy of the Ministry of Environment, the enbroadening strategy of the Ministry of Agriculture and region-oriented initiatives of the Province of Gelderland were important triggers for the Vallei-project.

    As a result of these strategies specific combinations of enviromnental and steering concepts were activated. The policy-making process in de Gelderse Vallei began in the context of reflexive steering. The choice for a deliberation and negotiation model was one of the last possibilities for the ministries and the province of Gelderland to overcome an administrative impasse. The Vallei- project was then reduced to its agro-environmental dimension by national and regional governments. Problems such as acidification, eutrophication and the spatial problems related to agriculture were strongly emphasized. All environmental discourses were activated in the broad and general goals. By honouring every sectoral interest at the beginning of the project, opportunities were created to integrate sectoral policy in a regional context.

    In the Vallei-project a new planning and organizational structure was created, consisting of the Valleicommissie , supported by a Coordination Commission and a Project Commission and charged with designing a plan of intervention. The plan is based on an analysis of four sectors (agriculture, environment, nature and landscape and other functions), while from the beginning promising concrete projects are implemented. The indirect goal of the project is to create 'win-win-situations' and to realize 'package-deals. This means that every participant must win something that compares favourably with the present situation and that the final plan must be accepted as one compromise.

    In Chapter 9 the policy-making process in de Gelderse Vallei is analyzed. This process was greatly influenced by the steering concept reflexive steering and, to a lesser degree by the environmental concepts used. Strategies and steering concepts were the boundary conditions for activating environmental concepts and resources such as scientific research. The environmental vision of actors at the beginning of the project did not change much during the policy making process. In other words enviromnental concepts influenced the kind of problems and solutions which actors supported, the role of definitions of problems and possible solutions were, however, structured by steering concepts and resources. Secondly, problems, solutions and legitimation were not separate phases in the policy-making process. Thirdly, as a result of the steering approach, a global policy plan was presented, which aimed at a process of economic and spatial restructuring. The most important elements of this process were segregation of nature and agriculture and a reorganization of agricultural production. By formulating a global plan, however, with a strong emphasize on the voluntary principal important choices are passed on to the implementation phase. Another problem with this kind of integrated region-oriented policy are the opportunities made available for public comment.

    Although criticism can be made, the policy-making process in the Gelderse Vallei shows some interesting and unexpected effects, such as the formulation of a common frame of reference by the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture,. renewed discussions on the Ecological Directive and the Verplaatsingsbesluit and the formulation of a plan by such divers actors as the different levels of government, agriculture and environmental groups.

    Original languageDutch
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Nooij, A.T.J., Promotor
    Award date17 Dec 1993
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Print ISBNs9789054851882
    Publication statusPublished - 1993


    • government policy
    • environmental policy
    • environmental legislation
    • air pollution
    • soil pollution
    • water pollution
    • nature conservation
    • policy
    • management
    • netherlands
    • gelderland
    • gelderse vallei

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