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Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR) decision-making process

Below you can find a summarised chronological overview of the entire decision-making process for the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR). The procedure was started in July 1997, after the then Cabinet agreed to the project decision Space Shortage in Mainport Rotterdam.

July 1997: project decision Space Shortage in Mainport Rotterdam
The decision-making process starts in 1997. On 14 July 1997 the Cabinet takes the project decision Space Shortage in Mainport Rotterdam. In this decision, the Cabinet recognises that finding expansion room for the port of Rotterdam is beneficial and necessary. Simultaneously, the quality of the living environment in and around the port should improve. The Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR) is set up for further investigation into this and to instigate project activities to realise the dual objective.

May 1998: PKB+ start memorandum
The Rotterdam Mainport Development Key Physical Planning Decision+ (PKB+)/EIA stipulates:
 - the project's ambitions and approach
 - what decision-making and democratic control procedures are applicable.
The start memorandum moreover marks the start of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) into the effects of the project on nature and environment.

May 2001: PKB+ and EIA
The Cabinet publishes part 1 of the Rotterdam Mainport Development Key Physical Planning Decision-plus (PKB+) and the associated Environmental Impact Assessment. These contain proposals to expand the port of Rotterdam and to improve the quality of the living environment in the Rijnmond region. This is known from here on as the dual objective. Possible means to achieve this goal include constructing new nature areas, by combating noise and damaging emissions and by creating a better living environment in the Rijnmond region.

November 2001: PKB+ part 2
During the two months following the publication of the Rotterdam Mainport Development Key Physical Planning Decision-plus (PMR PKB+) part 1 and the associated Environmental Impact Assessment, everyone could react to the reports. Part 2 of the PMR PKB+, published in November 2001 by the Cabinet, contains the results of public participation, administrative discussion and legal advice on the Cabinet's proposals presented in part 1 of the PKB+ and the associated Environmental Impact Assessment.

December 2001: PKB+ part 3
The Cabinet publishes part 3 of the Rotterdam Mainport Development Key Physical Planning Decision-plus (PMR PKB+). This part contains the Cabinet's standpoint on the project and an explanatory memorandum in which is stated how the Cabinet has dealt with the results of the public participation, advice, discussion and additional investigation.

September 2003: PKB+ part 4
Part 4 of the Rotterdam Mainport Development Key Physical Planning Decision-plus (PKB+), published on 29 September, lays down, among other matters, the decision in principle for the construction of Maasvlakte 2, including all requirements and preconditions with which the land reclamation must comply. Objection to the 'specific policy decisions' in part 4 of the Rotterdam Mainport Development PKB+ is possible via a procedure before the Council of State.

November 2003: Appeal
Government bodies, stakeholders' representatives, businesses and neighbours submit 18 letters of appeal to the Council of State. In this way, they object to parts of the Rotterdam Mainport Development Key Physical Planning Decision-plus (PKB+).

June 2004: Administrative Agreement about finance
On 25 June 2004, the PMR parties reach an Administrative Agreement about financing the PMR projects. In the Administrative Agreement contains the general agreements made between the State and the regional partners about the financing and implementation of the sub-projects and it is agreed that the implementation responsibility for the sub-projects lies with the regional partners. These agreements are specified in detail in what are known as the Implementation Agreements (Uitwerkingsovereenkomsten).

January 2005: Council of State's Verdict
On 26 January 2005, the Council of State decides that a number of the objections against specific policy decisions in the PKB+ are valid. Because the decisions are heavily interrelated, the Council of State declares all the specific policy decisions in the PKB+ to be void. Going through the whole procedure again would seriously delay the project and waste the existing support for implementation of the project. For this reason, the project partners opt to repair the PKB+ from the Cabinet decision, PKB+ part 3.

September 2005: Signing of Implementation Agreements
On 2 September 2005, parties including the State, the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Port Authority sign the implementation agreements for the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR). The agreements made about the financing and implementation of the PMR's three sub-projects are stated in the Implementation Agreements. There are three implementation agreements: 
  - land reclamation
  - 750 hectares of nature and recreation area  
  - quality of life and intensification projects in the Existing Rotterdam Area.

2005/2006: PKB+ repair
To continue the procedure, the project partners decide to opt for repair without specific policy decisions. Extensive attention is given in the modified PKB to the deficiencies recognised by the Council of State. The consequences of the land reclamation for protected nature in the Waddenzee, which were insufficiently mapped out according to the verdict, are further investigated. These turn out to cause no objections. The interests of a number of (agricultural) entrepreneurs are also evaluated. Some other legal procedural objections to the original formulations are also solved in the revised PKB. In addition, it responds to current developments, such as the required protection of air quality.

June 2006: Strategic Environmental Assessment
In the revised PKB, there must also be a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SMB) and a Land Reclamation Applicable Assessment (PB). A Strategic Environmental Assessment is a report in which the environmental effects of a PKB are described in broad terms. The Land Reclamation Applicable Assessment describes the consequences of the land reclamation on the Voordelta and Waddenzee special protection zones. That these reports are now required is a consequence of new European directives (from 2004). Public participation is possible in the SMB and the Land Reclamation PB in 2006.

October 2006: Parliament agrees
On 10 October 2006, the Parliament votes definitively in favour of implementing the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR). By this means, it also ratifies the agreements made earlier in the Administrative Agreement (2004) and the Implementation Agreements for the three PMR sub-projects.

November 2006: PMR PKB final
On 20 November, the Senate also agrees with implementation of the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR). By this means, the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project Key Physical Planning Decision (PMR PKB 2006) becomes final. The PMR PKB 2006 is to a large extent identical to the PMR PKB+ from September 2003. The specific policy decisions in the original PKB are in outline unchanged. However, they are actually no longer policy decisions, but 'decisions of material importance'. This means that they are indeed important, but are not binding on other government bodies. This is in contrast to specific policy decisions.

February 2007: Environmental Impact Assessment complete
Environmental Impact Assessments are conducted for the plans and permits: EIA A (construction) and EIA B (zoning). Besides these, there are what are known as the Habitat assessments, which specifically consider the consequences for protected nature and stipulate how much environmental compensation is necessary. Together these are very extensive reports with many appendices. Now that the construction and zoning environmental impact assessments are ready, the zoning plan procedure is instituted.

April 2007: Rotterdam approves Maasvlakte 2
Rotterdam's municipal council votes in favour of the draft plans for Maasvlakte 2. The council approves the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the draft zoning plan with a large majority.

April/May 2007: Public participation
An important participation round takes place between 20 April and 31 May 2007. The Construction and Zoning EIAs, various zoning plans and permit and exemption applications are available for perusal. The participation round yields slightly over fifty participation reactions.

6 December 2007: E.I.A. committee recommends in favour
The independent E.I.A. Committee concludes that the Environmental Impact Assessment of Maasvlakte 2 presents a good picture of the environmental consequences of the construction and use of the port expansion. In the opinion of the Committee, the use of Maasvlakte 2 will not lead to worsening of air quality, because adequate compensatory measures are to be taken. This positive recommendation was presented by the E.I.A. Committee to the competent authority, i.e. the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management and the Rotterdam municipal council.

January 2008: Public participation
Once again, an important public participation round takes place between 4 January and 15 February 2008. Documents including draft zoning plans and draft permits and exemptions are available for perusal.

Summer of 2008
In the summer of 2008, the appeal procedures for the construction and nature permits and the spatial procedures are gone through. The first decisions went into procedure on 26 April 2008. The last document for perusal was the Voordelta Management Plan. Reactions to this could be submitted until 1 September.

November 2008
On 11 November 2008, the Province of Zuid-Holland's Executive Committee approves the zoning plans. Contiguously, appeal against the Province's decision was possible for another six weeks.

December 2008/January 2009
The Maasvlakte 2 zoning plan and the two partial revisions are available for perusal in the context of the appeal procedures from 19 December 2008 to 29 January 2009. Stakeholders can submit appeals to the Council of State against the approval decisions.