Dutch gov't, municipalities sign promise to improve air quality

Dozens of Dutch municipalities, provinces and the central government will sign the Clean Air Agreement on Monday - a promise to improve air quality in the Netherlands. With a package of measures, they want to prevent some 5 thousand premature deaths by 2030. The government is pushing 50 million euros into the agreement, municipalities and provinces dozens of millions more, NOS reports.

"Around 11 thousand people in the Netherlands die prematurely due to dirty air," Environment Minister Stientje van Veldhoven said. "A lot of small dust particles really cause these problems. One in five children has asthma. We need clean air. Within 10 years we want to meet the standards of which the World Health Organization says: the air must be this clean." According to the signatories, European environmental standards must be "a lower limit". 

Among other things, the government wants mobile construction equipment, such as aggregates and sweepers, to be cleaner. These machines now often run on diesel and, according to the government, are responsible fo around 10 percent of the health damage caused by dirty air. From now on, the government will only give contracts to construction companies that use cleaner machines. 

According to the Minister, this will not result in an extra burden on construction companies, like happened with the PFAS and nitrogen issues. "It really involves technologies that we know are there," she said. "The builders may think: my competitor is not doing it, so they work cheaper. As government, we ask that all builders start using the new technology. Then you also have fair competition."

The agreement also states that provinces will set new emission requirements for the industry based on the latest techniques to reduce pollution. There will be a study into stricter environmental requirements for smaller biomass installation. And from next year the diesel particulate filter for diesel cars will always be checked at road worthiness testing.