Netherlands to take extra measures to improve air quality

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

State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure and Water Management plans to implement around 100 extra measures to ensure that air quality throughout the Netherlands meets European standards, ANP reports.

The State Secretary drew up the plan of measures together with provinces and municipalities. They apply both to local and national level, and range from additional investments in electric car charging stations, to tackling specific intersections where emissions of nitrogen dioxide are still too high. Municipalities will also have the opportunity to reduce parking fees for cleaner cars. 

The plans are not yet final. In the coming weeks the Dutch public can give an opinion on the plans while costs are being calculated.

Van Veldhoven stressed that meeting European standards on air quality is not the Dutch government's final goal. "The cabinet strives for the values that the World Health Organization (WHO) uses", she said in a letter to parliament, according to the news wire. Those standards are stricter than the EU standards. "The job is not finished yet, this is just an intermediate step."

In January the Dutch Health Council called on Van Veldhoven to come up with an "ambitious plan" to improve air quality in the Netherlands. According to the Health Council, at the current rate the Netherlands will only reach WHO standards in 2030, and even then the "blanket of pollution" will cause major health problems in the country.

Environmental group Milieudefensie has been trying to force the government to take extra measures against air pollution with various lawsuits. 

In December the environmental group lost a lawsuit in which the organization tried to force the Dutch State to meet the WHO standards on air quality. The court ruled that the government is taking sufficient measures, and noted that there is no treaty provision that obliges the state to adhere to the WHO guidelines. Milieudefensie announced that it is appealing against this ruling. 

In September Milieudefensie also filed summary proceedings against the Netherlands, demanding that the government work on at least meeting EU air quality standards. In that case the court ruled that the government had to draw up an air quality plan that complies with the European rules. Milieudefensie considers the plan the government came up with to be inadequate.


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