Environmental group demands anti-air pollution measures in Dutch court

Air pollution (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Zakysant)Air pollution (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Zakysant)

In the summary proceedings court on Wednesday, environmental organization Milieudefensie demanded that the Dutch state immediately implement measures to reduce air pollution. Campaign leader Anne Knol calls it "absolutely necessary that measures be taken quickly to make the air healthier", NOS reports. 

The organization already filed an ordinary lawsuit for this, but Milieudefensie thinks this will take too long.

According to Milieudefensie, the Netherlands does not comply with European standards for both particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air. Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are in the top 12 of the most polluted city areas in Europe, and air quality even deteriorated last year, Knol said, according to the broadcaster. 

For years the government did nothing to reduce air pollution, although it is becoming increasingly clear that polluted air is harmful to the public's health, Milieudefensie said. In this way the Netherlands "deliberately put our health at risk", according to the organization. Milieudefensie also pointed out that the European Commission finds the air quality in the Netherlands worrying. 

The government argued that the air quality improved dramatically over the past 40 years, and that the European standards are only exceeded in a limited number of places. 

In 2015 environmental group Urgenda won a lawsuit which forced the Dutch government to take measures against greenhouse gas emissions. Experts believe that Milieudefensie has a stronger case than Urgenda had, NOS reports. Urgenda based its case on target values from international treaties, while Milieudefensie's case is based on concrete EU emission standards that the Netherlands must adhere to.