Dutch infrastructure policies have undergone major changes during the 1990s. The decision-making process for the Betuweroute marked a turning point in the way large projects are prepared and carried out. Since then a number of institutional changes have taken place. Policy-making is becoming more transparent, new actors are invited to participate and more attention is paid to communication. At the same time, there is a strong increase in the resources available for infrastructure and a tendency to reduce public participation. These contradictory trends limit the open character of new initiatives. In this chapter, both tendencies are described by looking at three recent policy initiatives and the impact of public participation on the quality of decision-making is discussed. On balance, public participation appears to play a positive role, at least in the Netherlands. In terms of policy processes and policy outcomes there is more to be gained from participation than to be lost. Its effects may be either immediate or delayed; the latter may be of greater importance and include technological innovation such as the use of alternative construction techniques. The largest risk an administration can take when engaging in public participation experiments is associated with the policy instruments that are adopted. Bad practice will inevitably lead to loss of support and legitimacy, to the detriment of both public participants and the state.
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- Dutch Infrastructure Policies, Public Participation and the Environment in the 1990s: The Politics of Interfering Logics
Paul K. Pestman
- Springer Netherlands