Dutch residential areas are not adequately prepared for extreme heat, drought or large amounts of rain, as is the case at the beginning of this month in Storm Poly. This is what experts and various organizations say.
To make these areas heat-resistant, scientists say, more green spaces need to be placed in public spaces, such as parks and trees. At the same time, this ensures better water collection (and storage) after heavy rains. Tiles and wide streets should give way to trees and groundwater pools.
The will to tackle parks, streets and even entire neighborhoods exists. But the initiators say they face delays in municipalities. Since 2020, they have agreed to implement projects in a “climate adaptive” way, but implementation is slower than planned.
Responsibility and everything at the same time
One of the reasons for this delay is the lack of clarity of who is responsible. For example, in the case of municipal water management, many municipalities do not have a body responsible for handling the heat problem.
Jeroen Klok, a lecturer at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, is conducting research on the refractory city. According to him, things are not going fast enough because a lot needs to be done at the same time on a small piece of land.
Power, water management and heat control must be addressed simultaneously. He says in The NOS Radio 1 Magazine. According to Kluck, this is also because little importance is attached to it.
According to Kluck, it doesn’t have to be complicated. This mainly concerns the placement of (large) trees. “Shadow is the most important measure against heat.”
Zwolle’s Neighborhood Initiative
In Zwolle, in the Assendorp region, the collective 50 Shades of Green Assendorp runs the gamut on a gamut of climate gauges. Assendorp is a stony neighborhood dating back to the 1930s, the houses are not adequately insulated and the sewage system in the streets is old and too small to handle large amounts of rain. In addition, there are almost no trees on the street.
This group also says it is experiencing delays from the government. According to initiator Olaf Heinen, the municipality deals with each problem individually. There is no integrated plan.
The reason Olaf Heinen from 50 Shades of Green Assendorp did something about it:
Greening to cool: “Such a tree cools dozens of air conditioners”
Another hurdle is planning. To deal with a neighborhood like Assendorp, companies and clients rely on each other’s agenda, while initiators want to tackle everything at the same time.
“People are always waiting for a moment when everything can be done at once, like planting trees if the sewage system needs to be replaced,” says Marianne Stoever, Green Cities Program Leader at Wageningen University.
According to Stever, there is a lack of direction. If it were up to it, the League of Dutch Municipalities could take over this direction. “A lot of ideas, now implementation.”
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