Council of State blocks widening of Utrecht ring road

The Council of State blocked the widening of the Utrecht ring road in a ruling on Wednesday. The minister of the then Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment gave permission to widen the road, but the Council of State abolished this decision, reports.

The plan was to widen the highway at Amelisweerd to seven lanes in each direction, in order to ensure a better flow of traffic on the A27 and A12 highways. In order to widen this highway, thousands of trees will need to be felled.

A total of 32 appeals were filed against this plan, including by local residents and environmental foundations. They raised concerns about the effects nitrogen precipitation can have on nature reserves in the area. They also objected against the Nitrogen Approach Program, through which governments were able too give permission for activities in which nitrogen is emitted, such as the construction of a road. In May the Council of State ruled that the Nitrogen Approach Program was not effective enough, resulting in hundreds of central government projects needing to be reviewed. 

On Wednesday the Council of State ruled that the objections against the widening of the Utrecht ring road are well founded and annulled the minister's decision. The Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management will have to review the plans and come up with a better way of widening the ring road or another way of improving traffic flow on the A27 and A12.