In 2021, coronavirus again invaded the Netherlands. And just as we thought we could put Covid-19 behind us, another crisis announced itself with the war in Ukraine. Both developments have a major impact on our society. Deputy Jeannette Baljeu (Finance): “A point behind the corona and (again) building a strong economy. That was the idea in 2021. Practice turned out to be more unruly. “Despite the concerns posed by Covid-19 and now the war in Ukraine, projects and activities continued, and we as a province have taken great strides on many pressing issues.”
From housing shortages to nature conservation
In 2021, the housing shortage was high on the agenda. 17 municipalities made use of our ‘Flying Brigade’, which helps municipalities accelerate the development and implementation of housing plans. And our subsidy has accelerated the construction of 2,027 social rental housing and 1,032 rental housing for middle-income earners. For our nature and recreational areas, visits to these areas have increased, partly due to the corona. The extra pressure in these areas required an extra effort to manage, maintain, realize and restore our nature. We have also worked hard to protect meadow birds. And for the recovery of vulnerable Natura 2000 sites, we worked with nitrogen reduction and water quality improvement.
We took the energy transition a step further by establishing regional energy strategies, which describe how we will achieve our climate goals. In addition, we worked on an energy saving program for companies, which was awarded a grant of 423,736 within ‘Zonnig Zuid-Holland’ and we submitted 13 proposals together with our partners to the National Growth Fund. And together with our regional partners, we have successfully applied for funding from the REACT-EU Fund. Our region will receive € 7 million for innovative sustainability projects in the (circular) industry.
Invest and inward
We continued to invest in a future-proof economy in 2021. It is very important for our future and for combating the climate crisis. We stimulated a low-carbon and circular economy, for example with subsidies and by bringing companies, knowledge institutions and governments together. We stimulated innovation, for example in agriculture, the port of Rotterdam, SMEs and the Space Campus in Noordwijk. And together with our partners, we have committed ourselves to making the lower Germanic limes live up to the requirements that UNESCO has set for this piece of world heritage. And in a broader sense, we continued to work on the preservation and experience of heritage.
Fast, safe and sustainable from A to B
We have also put a lot of energy into mobility. Management and maintenance of existing infrastructure (road, water, bicycle and railway) focused on greater safety. We continued to build new roads, such as the RijnlandRoute. The preparations for Zuid-Holland Ookbaar took place, the organization that now helps travelers and businesses with smart and sustainable travel and transportation. We promoted the construction of charging infrastructure for electric cars, inland shipping and leisure. We improved the bicycle network and invested in more shared bicycles. The transition to low-emission transport continued, and we kept the roadmap as attractive as possible. That we succeed in this was stated in the public transport customer barometer. Our travelers rated our public transportation with an 8 in 2021, the highest score for South Holland since the start of this survey in 2001.
Every day better
At the end of 2021, the national coalition agreement ‘Take care of each other, look to the future’ was concluded. It includes the government’s plans to combat the climate crisis and the nitrogen crisis together with e.g. provinces and to further accelerate housing construction. In addition to these major national tasks, this council will continue to invest across South Holland’s ambitions for the coming year and further into the future. Every day we work on a better South Holland, where it is good to live, live, move and recreate.