News item | 11-25-2022 | 4:15 pm

    A rich and resilient nature, robust water system, vital countryside and space for sustainable and strong agriculture. That is what the government is aiming for with the National Rural Area Program (NPLG). To achieve that, a major transition is needed. Minister Van der Wal for Nature and Nitrogen is working with Minister Harbers of Infrastructure and Water Management and Minister De Jonge for Housing and Spatial Planning on the NPLG, a program in which the goals to be achieved in the areas of nature, nitrogen, water, soil and climate be addressed jointly and coherently.

    Transition via an area-oriented approach

    We also want to live, work and produce food in a beautiful and liveable country in the future. This requires that we deal better with space and nature and with the organization of our country. The knowledge that has helped us to adapt the landscape for years now helps us to ensure a safe and healthy life in the Netherlands with a changed climate.

    In this transition of the rural area, choices have to be made, for the short and long term. Choices that are sometimes difficult, but that are necessary to live in a healthy, safe and liveable country in the future. We all benefit from this in the end. Governments are working together with entrepreneurs, social organizations and residents on a future-proof Netherlands. This is managed by the provinces.

    Get started together

    In this next step in the area-oriented approach, the government, together with the other authorities and parties in the area processes, is working out how best to achieve the various taskings and national goals in an area. It is tailor-made, because there are major differences between the areas. What is needed where and what offers the best solutions, taking into account the people who live and work there? Together with water boards, municipalities, sectors, entrepreneurs and citizens, the provinces determine which measures and resources are required to achieve the goals. Each of these parties has its own responsibilities, knowledge and expertise. A development document is used in this process, with which provinces can further shape the area-oriented approach with the support of the national government.

    Agricultural sector indispensable

    The agricultural sector is indispensable in this approach, from its role as a sustainable food producer, manager of (agricultural) nature and landscape elements and from a socio-cultural perspective. It is important that there is and remains usable agricultural land for the agricultural sector.

    The elaboration of the NPLG is closely related to the letter from the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality about the future of agriculture and the Agricultural Agreement, to the government’s response to the Council of State’s ruling on the building exemption, and to the letter Water and Soil Steering from the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management. In its response to the ruling on the building exemption, the government describes an approach to achieve a substantial reduction in nitrogen precipitation in the short term in order to restore nature, legalize PAS detectors and make economic development possible again and to ensure a simpler and a more robust way of granting permits based on the Nature Conservation Act.

    Regional elaboration of the goals and planning of the area processes

    On 9 December 2022, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations will send the so-called NOVEX starter packages on the spatial challenges to the provinces so that they can put together the spatial puzzle in which various challenges come together. The NPLG is part of that.

    The directional regional translation of a number of national goals for nature (specification of area and improvement targets for the Birds and Habitats Directives) and climate (reduction target for agricultural greenhouse gases) from the NPLG will be determined in the regional processes with the local authorities and will be announced at the beginning of 2023.

    The government has set aside €24.3 billion in the Rural Area and Nature Transition Fund for the area-based approach.

    By 1 July 2023 at the latest, the provinces will present a first verifiable version of the area program in which it is important that a number of main choices are prepared for the entire rural area. But not everything can and does not have to be completely worked out on 1 July. The area programs are jointly developed over a longer period, with a focus on reflection, input of new knowledge and learning from each other.

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