For the proposed Zuiderzee rail link between Amsterdam and the north of the Netherlands the Dutch cabinet has elaborated a so-called Structural Vision. This includes a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to identify the main environmental impacts of the various alternatives proposed for the link at an early stage of proceedings so they can be duly addressed in the planning procedure. Besides several ‘accessibility alternatives’ (AAs), a so-called ‘transition alternative’ (TA) was also put forward, designed to improve the economic structure of North Netherlands as well as help steer the country as a whole towards its scheduled transition to a sustainable energy supply by the year 2050.
Because of time constraints a slightly different SEA procedure was followed for the TA, with (the various elements of) the plan being evaluated by a team of experts led by CE Delft. In contrast to the standard SEA carried out for the AAs, a ‘fast-track’ procedure was thus adopted whereby the main anticipated environmental impacts were approximately identified within the space of two weeks.
Although this meant the impacts of the Transition Alternative were assessed in less detail than in the case of the Accessibility Alternatives, it did not preclude evaluation at the strategic level required for the Structural Vision.
A tentative comparison of these alternatives for the projected Zuiderzee link yielded the following results: