The Dutch Case of Testing on Future Air Quality: An Example of Improper Model Use in a Decision-making Process

This paper is about a case of improper use of models and model results in a decision-making process. In the Netherlands, European air quality standards have been implemented in Dutch law in a way that makes every infrastructure construction decision applicable to law suits. In planning new infrastructure it is obligatory to test whether in the future air quality norms may be exceeded. Currently the high uncertainty of these air quality calculations is ignored completely in the Dutch planning procedure. This paper will show that this current calculation practice; creating a false sense of certainty, leads to political frustration and to the postponement of building new infrastructure and reconstructing existing infrastructure. Policy makers interpret the numbers in the way they are given by the researchers: as absolute ‘true’ figures, without regard for their uncertainty. No different future scenarios are provided for, and no bandwidth is given. This practice makes it easy for the industry of environmental associations, who use these figures and their false sense of uncertainty to object to new infrastructure. They doubt the official data or they present different traffic data and air quality estimates that due to the high future uncertainty are as accurate as the official data. In several Dutch new infrastructure cases judges have acknowledged that the official data are flawed.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 8p
  • Monograph Title: European Transport Conference, 2009 Proceedings

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01344832
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 14 2011 12:06PM