The Netherlands is inextricably linked with water: a large part of the country lies below sea level. Dikes, dunes and quays provide protection against high tides. Water boards play an important role in that regard. For example, they are responsible for management and maintenance.
That is not an easy task. Especially now that the Dutch Flood Protection Programme or HWBP requires a large number of measures to be taken to reinforce dikes. In the years to come, water boards are facing the immense job of preparing the existing water defences for the future.
Complex dike improvement projects also offer opportunities
Technological opportunities arrive in rapid succession. All of the available methods need to be identified and considered. What is more, dike improvements are increasingly being combined with other spatial improvements. Local residents, business and other interested parties keep a critical eye on these developments. Social participation is an elementary component of the decision-making process. Neighbouring parties want certainty while the parties involved need flexibility. New standards, limited budgets and strict time schedules increasingly complicate the playing field for water boards. This presents not only risks but also opportunities for the future.
The legal impact of various scenarios
Preparing flood defences for the future in this complicated playing field requires innovation and creative thinking. It also requires solution-oriented and pragmatic sparring partners with a broad view, who understand what is involved and have a feel for the administrative and political context. After all, decisions made for one project will have a direct effect on other projects. As a result, choices made in phase 1 can have a major impact on phase 2. In a legal context, as well. What better than to work together with a partner who knows what to do in large projects of this type? One that is accustomed to playing simultaneous matches and dealing with all of the sensitivities this involves. A partner who has and maintains an overview and knows the legal impact of the various scenarios.
Being involved in large and complicated projects of this type is what we do, enabling us to act as the project’s ‘external legal conscience’. As recently nicely put by one of our clients: “There comes a point when I simply want to know whether I can continue, whether the choice is legally tenable.”
Avoid unnecessary stumbling blocks
Are you about to embark on the exploration of a plan or a tendering procedure? Or is it time to make an important decision in an ongoing project? And do you want to make sure that your project will not unnecessarily stumble over a legal issue? It will be our pleasure to help you assess the products of your plan, your tender documentation and contracts, and to brainstorm with you at a strategic level. Or would you like to exchange thoughts with us on your project first? Then please feel free to contact us.
Some of our recent work includes advising on reinforcement of: the Markermeer dikes, Prins Hendrikzanddijk, and Wadden Sea Texel dikes. We have also advised on IJsseldelta-Zuid flood channel and area development, relocation of the Munnikenland levee, the Noordwaard land inundation project, and the Volkerak-Zoommeer water retention project.