Execution of the project started in 2002, but changes in sand extraction and nature conservation policies in combination with land acquisition on a voluntary basis led to delays. In 2010, 2/3 of the 36 measures had been executed while the rest was in the preparation or execution phase. A number of measures planned can no longer be implemented before 2012, because of certain procedures and delays in land acquisition. Extra arrangements to deal with this are currently being made.
The cohesion between the various sub-projects is enhanced by their mutual dependence in financing and realisation. A downside of this strong interdependence is that failure or delay of one project can negatively affect progress of other projects.
Governance – Stakeholders involvement
In the construction phase the former initiative-group merged into three new groups responsible for the implementation of the project:
- The Steering Committee, supervising the execution of the project. Members of the committee are representatives of the national, provincial, municipal governments and the water boards.
- The Project Team, hosted by Rijkswaterstaat, is the coordinating body of the project. The team coordinates the implementation of the various measures, is responsible for the finances, represents the steering committee and is responsible for the project communication.
- The Advisory Board consists of 21 societal organisations. Its main task is to advise the project team about the balance between nature and recreation, the progress of the measures and the relation with other developments in the area.
Within the project there was relatively much interaction between local and national government officials. Decisions taken were carefully documented, translated into plans on provincial and municipal levels and ultimately laid down in a covenant. Government officials further had an active role in the preparation of the decision making process of the steering group.
A number of critical success factors in relation to stakeholder involvement emerged from the project:
- Clearly defined rules of the game right from the start. Every person interested in the project was welcome to participate during the planning phase, but it was clear that the governments responsible would take the decisions. In this way new forms of direct democracy were combined with existing forms of representative democracy and the two reinforced each other.
- Personal commitment of some individuals of Rijkswaterstaat and other parts of the Ministry. They picked up important signals from society, took them seriously and worked hard to communicate and solve these issues.
- Diversity of expertise within the project team. This made it possible for the team to provide the necessary content, manage the process, hold consultations and take responsibility for the communication. The variety of expertise also made it possible to quickly respond to unexpected situations.
- Involvement of specialists of diverse backgrounds. This created a lot of enthusiasm and quick implementation of project ideas in practice.