Environmental group recruits "air guards" to force local governments to improve air quality

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

Environmental organization Milieudefensie is recruiting "air guards" in the seven large cities in the Netherlands - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven and Arnhem. These air guards' job will be to make sure their municipalities take steps to improve air quality in their region, the Volkskrant reports.

In September Milieudefensie won a lawsuit against the Dutch State in which the court ordered the government to come up with a quality plan to improve the air quality in the Netherlands so that it complies to European regulations. Another lawsuit the environmental group filed for the same reason, is starting on November 12th, according to the newspaper. Milieudefensie wants its air guards to make sure that their local governments don't just wait around for the national government to take steps, but start working on better air quality in their regions themselves.

Last week the RIVM revealed that especially on busy streets in major cities, the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide still "stubbornly" exceed European standards. Which is why Milieudefensie wants to deploy air guards in the seven biggest cities of the country.

The environmental group already has a number of volunteers who will act as air guards. "It's absurd, but apparently we need to safeguard our own health", one such volunteer, 66-year-old Ipe van der Deen from Arnhem, said to the Volkskrant. Van der Deen would like more space for cyclists in the city center. "I'm going to ask my alderman whether there can be more fast bike paths like between Arnhem and Nijmegen. 

Mark Aptroot from Utrecht is another volunteer. "The judge ruled in September that the state is doing too little for clean air", he said to the newspaper. "It can not be allowed that the government just let things go on as usual after a lawsuit. That's why we will look if we regionally see real action." Aptroot will also like to see more space for cyclists. "I want the environmental zone in Utrecht to not only apply to the city center but also to the neighborhoods around it."


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