Utrecht, Rotterdam vow to continue ban on old diesels

The municipalities of Utrecht and Rotterdam plan to keep the environmental zones banning old diesel cars from their city centers, despite a parliamentary majority wanting the bans lifted.

"It is questionable whether the State can forbid us to do so", said Utrecht alderman Lot van Hooijdonk to broadcaster NOS. Utrecht implemented the ban on January 1st and started fining violators on May 1st. "Municipalities have the heavy responsibility of cleaning up the air, but now they take our instruments away."

According to Van Hooijdonk, "we are only halfway there". "Unhealthy air is in the top of health risks, after obesity and smoking", he said to NOS. "You can do something about the last to, but you cannot choose what air you breathe. Every year 3 thousand people die prematurely in the Netherlands because of bad air."

Rotterdam plans to implement environmental zones on January 1st, and those plans haven't changed, Alderman Pex Langenberg said to the broadcaster. "As far as we're concerned, we're simply going through with it."

VVD parliamentarian Barbara Visser submitted the motion to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament. According to her, there is less reason than ever to have the ban, because the air quality is already much better.