Complete English version of the nitrogen calculation tool AERIUS Calculator

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

In the Netherlands, as in its neighbouring countries, the nitrogen deposition on nature areas is often too high, due to agriculture, industry and traffic. AERIUS Calculator is a new calculation tool that provides insight into the nitrogen impact of new economic activities on Nature 2000 areas. Farmers can calculate, for example, the nitrogen deposition that would result from planned new animal housing. A complete English version of the Calculator is now also available.

The graphical interface of the online tool is very user-friendly; just enter the source on the map, add characteristics and press the calculation button. Farmers thus can indicate the location of new animal housing on a map and add housing type and animal numbers. The Calculator then calculates the related nitrogen emissions as well as the dispersion in the air; for instance, due to weather conditions and certain terrain characteristics. Basic maps and factors are all available in the Calculator.

The main calculation result is that of a map showing the nitrogen deposition on surrounding Natura 2000 areas. Markers indicate, for example, where the impacts on nature are expected to be the greatest, in terms of relative exceedance of the so-called critical load levels. The Calculator makes it easy to compare the impacts from different investment variants by showing them side by side.

Integrated Approach to Nitrogen
The Netherlands uses the AERIUS tool set in the development and implementation of its Integrated Approach to Nitrogen (PAS). Since 2008, the permit issuing process around the Dutch Natura 2000 areas became increasingly deadlocked. Therefore, all levels of government jointly worked on a new regulation that would rebalance nature and the economy. This has resulted in the PAS, which is expected to be implemented in mid 2015. 

The regulation essentially is a combination of source and area measures that create new room for economic development. The government has determined the amount of room available, in terms of the amount of nitrogen per area. Entrepreneurs seeking a permit for new economic activities that involve nitrogen emissions can apply to make use of this room for development.

Also of interest to other countries
The Netherlands is consulting with its neighbours to come to an agreement about transboundary nitrogen impacts. Flanders is currently working on a regulation comparable to the PAS. During a European workshop on nitrogen issues in Natura 2000 areas, surrounding countries expressed great interest in the Dutch calculation tool set. The English version of AERIUS Calculator will enable them to explore the calculation tool for themselves.

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