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Review of AERIUS Monitor : Data quality of Monitor (version 2014.2 and 2015) as used for the Dutch Nitrogen Action Programme (PAS)

Schouw AERIUS-Monitor : Kwaliteit van de data in Monitor (Versie 2014.2 en 2015) voor de PAS


In the Netherlands the quality of nature in the 'Natura 2000' areas is - in most cases - limited by a high nitrogen load. This high load is caused by the large emission of nitrogen oxides and ammonia resulting from economic activities in agriculture, traffic, industry and other sources.

The Dutch Nitrogen Action Programme (PAS) was launched to reduce the high nitrogen loads in 'Natura 2000' areas, and at the same time to enable spatial planning and economic development. The PAS went into effect on 1 July 2015, establishing that initiators of economic activities causing nitrogen deposition have to use the AERIUS instrument to calculate the nitrogen load in Natura 2000 areas. The calculation outcomes have to be sent with the application for the permit.

In 2015-2016 RIVM became responsible for the deployment and maintenance of the AERIUS system and for making it available to the users. During this period RIVM checked how the AERIUS system works. This report describes the outcomes of the evaluation and concludes that AERIUS calculation of the nitrogen load on Natura 2000 areas is correct. Firstly, the AERIUS deposition results are in line with the outcomes from modelling air quality based on the same emission data, which are calculated by RIVM for other policy areas. And secondly, AERIUS gives a comparable fit to the concentrations measured with the national monitoring network for ammonia and nitrogen oxides.

This report makes some recommendations to streamline the use of emission data in AERIUS. Furthermore, the report warns about the use of different policy assumptions in the PAS compared to those in other reporting obligations, such as the National Emission Ceiling (EU-NEC directive), which often result in higher emissions in AERIUS. This mainly refers to the emissions from road traffic, and emissions from the industry and international shipping in the Rijnmond area (Rotterdam harbour).

This research was commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs.

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