€500 million needed annually for Netherlands to handle extreme weather: Infrastructure minister
The next Dutch Cabinet will need to set aside 500 million euros annually for the country to make preparations to combat climate change, said Cora van Nieuwenhuizen in an interview with AD. The caretaker minister in charge of infrastructure and water management said that the money needs to be spent on investments that can better equip the Netherlands to fight both flooding and droughts, and also should be used to make the countries railways, roadways, and waterways able to withstand the effects of climate change including heat and extreme weather.
"Those investments are nothing compared to the damage when you are increasingly affected by this type of weather," she said to the newspaper. The Cabinet minister, a member of the conservative VVD political party, stated that the flooding in the Netherlands and neighboring countries a week ago will spur governments to approach the issue with with more urgency.
Officials in the city of Valkenburg placed the flood damage estimate there at 400 million euros, split in half between physical damage and the lost income of businesses. Valkenburg is home to about 17 thousand residents in total.
“If the colleagues at the formation table really want to work on this, they must allocate half a billion a year. And even more so if we want to help the other governments from the national government as well,” Van Nieuwenhuizen said.
Rivers need to continue to be widened, she said, and dikes urgently need to be strengthened. Regional governments and water boards need to focus their attention on the state of smaller waterways.
“We have to do this together: the water boards, municipalities and provinces cannot do this alone. And we have to build climate-proof everywhere in the Netherlands.”
She also wants to see more money spent on the maintenance of the Dutch waterworks system, including surge barriers, dams and dikes. Heavier use and new innovations in the field require spending of about 1.8 billion euros through 2035.