What and for whom
The Atlas of the Living Environment offers information about the quality of the Dutch living environment. It focuses on environmental themes which affect our physical and mental health. The issues include air quality, water quality and safety. The information is available as text, but primarily also in the form of maps. You can easily select maps yourself and often zoom in to neighbourhood level. Sometimes you can even view the situation in your own street. The conveniently arranged background information also offers the possibility to investigate the issues in as much detail as you wish.
Why and by whom
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management commissioned the Atlas of the Living Environment. Rijkswaterstaat and RIVM are carrying out the work. They are doing so in cooperation with the provincial governments, municipalities and other policy and knowledge institutions. Together they are making sure that the maps are convenient to use and are accompanied by an explanation. A number of maps have been provided by RIVM or Rijkswaterstaat. In many cases the maps are owned by other organisations. Those owners are also referred to as the 'source owner'. The source owner keeps an eye on the quality of his own map(s).
The Atlas will ensure that plenty of new maps and informative material will become available in the coming years. This will be the result partially of the ever-increasing amount of available data, but also because user groups request it.
The initial ideas for an Atlas of the Living Environment came about after the Aarhus Convention. This European treaty came into effect in 2001 and obliges the government to provide accessible information about the environment. This was followed not much later in the Netherlands by the developments relating to the Environment and Planning Act. This newly created law brings together several pieces of legislation and hundreds of regulations. All of these relate to space, living, infrastructure, the environment, nature and water. This Environmental and Planning Act is expected to become law in 2019. This will provide a single law which takes account of all kinds of different activities, ranging from new activities to activities to be extended or expanded. In that way the Environmental and Planning Act will become an umbrella law, just like this Atlas which is also umbrella in nature.
The website is intended to be used by anyone and everyone and contains a wealth of information. It will be of interest to policymakers, initiators, companies, interest groups and citizens. It offers knowledge and tips for any interested party. The Atlas of the Living Environment can play a role in the initial phase of many of the possible activities. This applies both to initiators as well as to residents and other parties involved. If you have any questions about spatial possibilities, opportunities and limitations, many of these can be answered by the Atlas. For example by displaying zoning plans, flood risks, particulate matter maps and groundwater protection areas.
A unique feature of the Atlas is that the various maps can be combined. For example, maps can be placed on top of each other to provide a complete picture. The fact that the data is continuously managed by the source owner means that the information displayed is up-to-date. It is easy to share maps through a permalink or download a picture of the map. You can display more or fewer details by zooming in and out. You can compare and discuss material on a closed forum.
The Atlas is still being developed. Comments and/or suggestions on how to make improvements are more than welcome. Please go to Participate and post a response. You can mail technical questions to Atlas of the Living Environment or send them via Contact.