Town Planning Review

Wintle, M. J. (ed.), and Reeve, R. (co-ed.), "Rhetoric and Reality in Environmental Policy: The Case of the Netherlands in Comparison with Britain" (Book Review)

Town Planning Review (1995), 66, (3), 329


338 BOOK REVIEWS ments for the further development of long-life cars. The marketing chapter concedes that some vehicles are aimed at the green consumer, but this is not a real change in policy by the manufacturers, only a means to extend their markets. 'Greenness' is a marketing ploy to increase market share. As can be seen from his commentary, it has been difficult to structure a review of Motor Vehicles in theEnvironment, and this reflects its content. So these two books are very different in their approaches to environmental problems. The Carpenter book is factual, dense and comprehensive, particularly on the technical and engineering aspects of rail and the environment. The Nieuwenhuis and Wells volume contains some interesting and factual contributions, but it lacks any sort of focus or cohesion. It would certainly have benefited from a structure and a strong conclusion. Much of the material does not relate to the environment or even to motor vehicles. But then the title is Motor Vehicles in the Environment: Principles andPractice. It is really about the changes in the motor industry and the ways in which vehicles might change in the short-term future. It is based on the strong premise that the motor vehicle will remain supreme, and that no new technology will challenge that supremacy. The environment is only peripheral to that concern. DAVID BANISTER University College London Rhetoric and Reality in Environmental Policy: The Case of the Netherlands in Comparison with Britain, M. J. Wintle (ed.) and R. Reeve (co-ed.), Aldershot, Avebury, 1994, ix + 194 pp., £32.50 This fine collection of essays, published under the title Rhetoric andReality in Environmental Policy, was first brought together in the journal Dutch Crossing: A Journal of Low Countries' Studies (No. SO, Winter 1993/94). According to its editor, publishing the collection in the new hard-cover Avebury format was undertaken with a view to reaching a wider readership than the 'Dutch and Belgian specialists who regularly consult Dutch Crossing'. The purpose of Rhetoric and Reality is to compare Dutch environmental policy, which is believed to be very innovative and full of initiatives, with environmental policy in the UK, which is generally taken less seriously in environmental policy matters. A question to be addressed in the book, then, is whether the reality matches the rhetoric. Without attempting a comprehensive coverage, a number of the essays in this book describe and discuss Copyright © 2010 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright © Liverpool University Press. initiatives in the Netherlands, while others take a more comparative Dutch-British perspective. In the first chapter, Michael Wintle makes it clear that British and Dutch political initiatives have completely different backgrounds and are therefore not easy to compa~e. The Dutch are regarded as 'liberal' (drugs) and ideabs· tic (environment) and are used to a lot of government intervention. The British are more 'traditional', prag· matic and are known to favour an unregulated free market approach. What comes across clearly from someof the essays is that the Dutch, more so than ~~ British, have a top-down environmental policy, whlC is now shifting from a more rigid into a more flexible system. It will be interesting to see whether the curre~t legislation for a national Environment Agenc~. England signifies deeper changes in the BrIUS approach. One widely-recognised characteristic of the Nether· lands is that it is one of Europe's most heavily pol1ute~ countries. The reader might wonder whether this IS rhetoric or reality? Yes, the country is polluted hea· ~ vily, but what is unique is that the Dutch know very well the type, the location and the extent of the~r pollution. They know exactly how polluted theIr country is, and how difficult and costly it will be to clean it up. They are undoubtedly working hard. to find ways of getting pollution under control, of ma1~· taining the quality of their better environments, and, If necessary, of improving the quality of bad enviro~· ments. British-Dutch comparisons would be helped If a similarly specific and quantified information base was available in Britain. Haq is right in his conclusion that the Dutch e advanced on paper. They are very good at strateg~C planning, with one of the best environmental strate~C plans being the Dutch National Environmental pobc~ Plan (NEEP). Unfortunately, the operational part 0 Dutch environmental policy seems to be less success· ful. But to think that NEEP is a paper tiger, as Van Der Streeten and Ugelow call it, is to diminish the 1: a: I valueof this internationally-known plan. NEEP was 9. major step forward in dealing with complex and highlY interrelated environmental issues. Over the last few years, Dutch environmental policY has become more integrated with other policy areas, such as spatial planning, economic policy and nature conservation, in order to help ensure that the econ• omic processis able to continue developing while ~e environment is improving. The ALORA (As LoW S Reasonably Achievable) principle has become increas ingly important, but needs to proceed hand in ha~ with spatial quality in reaching for an optimum state In the physical quality of a particular area. Readers of Rhetoric and Reality can expect to find some very interesting essays which serve as good d

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Roo, Gert De