ANWB unhappy with anti-pollution bill

21st August 2007, Comments 0 comments

21 August 2007, AMSTERDAM (dpa) - Dutch motorists' association ANWB is critical of a government plan to force owners of polluting cars to pay higher parking fees.

21 August 2007

AMSTERDAM (dpa) - Dutch motorists' association ANWB is critical of a government plan to force owners of polluting cars to pay higher parking fees.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment said diesel cars and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) will soon pay more to park their cars. By contrast, environmentally friendly cars will see their parking costs reduced.

The government is due to discuss the bill next month. If accepted by Parliament, the new law could be put into effect in 2008.

Markus van Tol, spokesman for the ANWB, says his organisation supports all initiatives that benefit the environment, but says he is doubtful whether this particular idea will do that.

"Apparently, the draft bill only deals with parking, not with overall car use."

He also warned that the new measure might have an adverse impact on the value of diesel cars and SUVs, which he says is unfair to the car owners: "Don't forget that the cars to be 'punished' under the draft bill, do meet Dutch legal standards, including environmental standards."

"Besides, all cars in the Netherlands are tested on a yearly basis. If they no longer qualify, they are taken off the road. The current draft bill ignores this," he added.

Van Tol, who says his organisation has some 3.9 million members, representing one quarter of the Dutch population, says his members are very environmentally conscious.

"Our members, mostly car owners, are extremely interested in products that reduce environmental damage. They particularly support positive incentives, like the various ones we try to offer them."

One such incentive is the top-ten list of environmentally friendly cars. The ANWB produces the list, which is updated regularly, together with the Dutch branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

"We started the project 18 months ago. We investigate which cars use the least energy and are least polluting. We divide our cars in four categories, ranging from small to large. The list is published on our website and on that of the WWF."

The list has been extremely successful, Van Tol adds.

"The sale of environmentally friendly cars has since surged 25 to 40 percent. Car manufacturers and sellers refer increasingly to our top-ten list in their marketing campaigns."

Under the bill currently drafted by the Ministries of the Environment and Internal Affairs, cars will be differentiated depending on their environmental status in order to establish the correct parking fee.

The cars' number plates would be used to identify which type of vehicle is being parked, a technology already applied in Sweden.

ANWB spokesman Van Tol, however, says this will result in enormous expense and bureaucratic hassles.

"Under the new law, car owners will insert their number plate identification in the parking machine. This means new software and new computer systems need to be developed.

"All parking machines need to be replaced. It is an enormously expensive and highly unpractical hassle."

Van Tol says his organisation has not yet received the official draft, but, he says, "we will study it thoroughly as soon as we have received it."

"If it turns out to be what it appears to be today, then we will be critical. We are a big organisation with broad support in the Netherlands.

"We will certainly engage in a debate with the government and the responsible ministries," the motorists' representative said.

[Copyright dpa 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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