Dutch planners need to take more account of the likely impact of climate change when designating areas for residential development, according to a senior government advisor.

Peter Glas, who heads the government’s Delta Commission on flood prevention, said that some 820,000 new homes are currently scheduled to built in parts of the Netherlands which are likely to be impacted by climate change, particularly flooding.

If the long-term consequences of climate change are not taken into account, this will lead to additional costs and damage in the future, Glas said in a new report. Water and soil systems must be given a more prominent role in site selection, design and construction and, he said, planners must avoid construction in areas which will be needed to implement climate adaptive measures.

Sea level

In particular, this means the Netherlands must not sanction building in flood plains or areas already designated to store excess water and there should be further restrictions on house building outside the dykes, he said.

Some 26% of the Netherlands is below sea level and a further 29% is susceptible to river flooding.

Measures should also be taken to prevent any further lowering of the groundwater table. Introducing the concept of ‘groundwater neutral construction’, he said, would be one way of ensuring this. 


‘The flooding in Limburg has shown that it is not possible to prevent flooding at all times… and it is important to be able to cope with extreme weather situations which go beyond current design standards,’ Glas said. ‘We have to look more closely at where and how we are building.’

The sea level along the Dutch coast will probably be 1.2 metres higher by the end of this century than at the start, but the difference could be as much as two metres, according to calculations by Dutch meteorological office KNMI.

The Dutch coast is protected by a complicated system of dykes, seawalls and sluices built after the devastating floods of 1953 which left over 1,800 people dead.

Climate adaptive construction and water management has a central role in the strategy of Holland Metropole partners, and was at the heart of the alliance’s recent appearances at the Expo Real and Provada trade fairs


Ice on the flood plains of the river Rhine near Wageningen. Photo: Despositphotos.com