F1: Court black flags environmental group, gives track repairs the go-ahead

Aerial photo of the Zandvoort circuit in 2016
Aerial photo of the Zandvoort circuit in 2016Photo: Otto Karikoski / Wikimedia Commons

Renovations to the Zandvoort Circuit for the Dutch Grand Prix can continue as planned, the court in Haarlem ruled on Tuesday in the first of two lawsuits filed by environmental organizations in an attempt to stop the planned work, RTL Nieuws reports.

The environmental organizations asked the court to cancel a permit granted by the province of Noord-Holland for the planned renovations to the circuit. According to them, he excavation work involved will destroy a total of 2 hectares of habitat for two protected species - the natterjack toad and the sand lizard. 

But the court ruled that the destroyed habitat does not outweigh the major public interest that is served by a Grand Prix in the Netherlands. The interests of the two protected species must give way to "the stature of the Dutch Grand Prix and the great social interest in it", the judge ruled. "The disruption and damage to their habitat is limited in this case and largely temporary."

The two hectares of reproduction and wintering habitat that disappears as a result of the renovation will not detract from the favorable conservation status of the two species, according to the judge.

A second lawsuit filed by environmental organizations to stop work on the Zandvoort Circuit will appear in court on Friday. This lawsuit revolves around the amount of nitrogen that will be emitted during the Formula 1 race in May next year and during the renovation of the Circuit. According to the province of Noord-Holland and the Circuit itself, the emissions are within what was previously licensed.

The environmental organizations don't believe this and asked the court to stop work on the circuit, at least until it is absolutely clear that the work will not violate the nitrogen standards.

The circuit wants to start the major renovations on Monday, November 4th.