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The Netherlands has been in a ‘nitrogen-crisis’ ever since the Council of State, the highest administrative law court in the Netherlands, annulled a nitrogen action program put in place by the Dutch government in 2019.

As part of the European network of nature conservation areas, called Natura 2000, the Netherlands has designated over 160 Natura 2000 areas. The majority of these Dutch Natura 2000 areas have nitrogen (NOx and/or NH3) sensitive habitats and nitrogen deposition on these areas has been too high for decades. The Dutch government put an action program in place in 2015 in an attempt to remedy this situation, but the Council of State held that the program did not meet the requirements of the European Habitats Directive.

As a result, a lot of uncertainty has arisen about the possibility of legally allowing nitrogen effects and projects have faced and continue to face both uncertainty and delays as a result. ENVIR is at the forefront of advising on nitrogen questions and supports both the (national) government and project initiators on the legal uncertainties and approaches to make projects possible after all.