Construction vehicles heading to The Hague to protest; traffic piling up
A difficult morning rush hour is expected as the construction sector is heading towards The Hague to protest against the government's nitrogen policy and PFAS standard. Traffic is piling up on various highways throughout the country, causing delays up to 90 minutes.
According to travelers' association ANWB, by 7:34 a.m. there were 72 traffic jams on Dutch roads, covering 325 kilometers. The biggest problems are on the A12 at various points, the A16 from Breda to Rotterdam, on the A2 at various points, on the A27 at various points, and on the A28 on various points. Commuters stuck in one of these traffic jams can expect to be on a road for between an hour and 90 minutes longer than normal.
Construction- and infrastructure entrepreneurs, dredgers and landscapers are protesting against the government's nitrogen policy and the PFAS standard on Wednesday. On Tuesday the Ministry of Infrastructure announced that it wants to ease the measures around PFAS by December 1st. And the government is expected to announce emergency measures around nitrogen emissions today. But the construction sector worries that these measures will be too late to save their businesses from bankruptcy.
Action group Grond in Verzet wants to have around a thousand construction vehicles on the Malieveld in The Hague, according to NU.nl. A few dozen arrived on Tuesday evening, but the rest will have to get there through morning rush hour. The official demonstration program starts at 9:55 a.m. and lasts until around 3:00 p.m.
Earlier this year the Council of State declared the Nitrogen Approach Program invalid. This program allowed provinces to compensate for nitrogen released with new construction projects at a later date. Now no new projects can be approved if nitrogen emissions aren't reduced elsewhere to compensate for the emissions of the new project. This brought hundreds of construction projects to a standstill and municipalities are still hesitant to issue new permits.
Other licensed projects are on hold, because the ground on which the work takes place may contain PFAS - a collection of around 6 thousand chemical substances that are difficult to degrade, are poisonous to rats and fish and can bind to proteins in the human body and build up in the blood. On October 1st a new standard was implemented stating that nature- and agricultural soil can't contain more than 0.1 microgram of PFAS per kilogram. Soil containing PFAS can therefore not be moved, or only moved to a limited extent.
The RIVM is currently investigating which areas of the Netherlands are not yet contaminated by PFAS, or contaminated to a lesser extent, NOS reports. So far the RIVM research showed that over 85 percent of the tested soil contains PFAS. Once this investigation is done, the RIVM can establish definitive rules for excavating and relocating soil.
The results are expected next summer. But on Tuesday State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure announced that she wants more clarity by December 1st, so that halted construction projects can continue. The aim is to broaden the current, strict standard without endangering public health or the environment.