Metro infrastructure planning in Amsterdam: how are social issues managed in the absence of environmental and social impact assessment?

Lara K. Mottee*, Jos Arts, Frank Vanclay, Fiona Miller, Richard Howitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Amsterdam’s North-South Metro Line (NZL) megaproject has had a long eventful history. From the initial proposal in the 1990s, through construction in the 2000s to 2010s, to its opening in 2018, the NZL overcame many challenges. Several geotechnical incidents in the Vijzelgracht neighbourhood in 2008 cost the City of Amsterdam and the Dutch government millions of Euros. These incidents required complex recovery management actions, and there was a complete re-evaluation of the project, resulting in extensive reformulation of the project’s communications and impact management strategies, and in more-transparent public participation. Despite NZL’s significance, it never underwent any formal Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), thus it provides an interesting case to consider how social impacts are addressed when there is no formal ESIA. Drawing on document review, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group, we considered the experiences of key decision-makers and project team members to learn how social impacts were assessed and managed over time in the absence of ESIA. We conclude that, when combined with appropriate urban governance frameworks, applying ESIA in urban and transport planning would improve the assessment and management of the social impacts of future megaproject infrastructure developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-335
Number of pages16
JournalImpact Assessment and Project Appraisal
Issue number4
Early online date22 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • community engagement
  • infrastructure planning
  • megaprojects
  • urban planning
  • urban transport


Dive into the research topics of 'Metro infrastructure planning in Amsterdam: how are social issues managed in the absence of environmental and social impact assessment?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this