Dutch news in brief, Friday 25 July 2008

25th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

25 July 2008

Less travel by car for recreational purposes
Today’s De Telegraaf reports that "petrol prices are reducing gridlock", mainly as the result of less recreational traffic.

The paper writes that Dutch motorists spend less time in traffic jams due to skyrocketing petrol prices.

In the second quarter the number of traffic jams decreased by three percent compared to the same period last year.

The government Traffic Information Service reports that there has been a substantial reduction in the number of traffic jams during the weekend.

A TIS spokesperson said that "recreational traffic is after all more sensitive to fuel price hikes than business or commuter traffic".     

A spokesperson for the branch organisation of petrol station exploiters estimates that motorists have cut spending on fuel by 10 to 20 percent.

"People have become more conscious of their driving behaviour; social contacts or family visits are being postponed."

Trouw reports that parliament wants clarity about Dutch fuel prices, which, without taxes and levies, are the highest in Europe.

Consumer organisations say there is no clear explanation for the high price, which could be the result of any one of a large number of factors.

A spokesperson said that maybe prices were so high simply because oil companies felt no need to lower them.  

An earlier investigation into fuel prices by the Dutch Competition Authority did not find any evidence of price rigging.

Outbreak of Q fever
Today's de Volkskrant reports on an outbreak of Q fever in the southern province of North Brabant.

Q fever, an infectious disease which is transmitted to humans via contact with sheep and goats, is caused by the Coxiella brunetti bacterium.

It can cause fever and even pneumonia.

Usually, only between five and 20 cases are reported a year, but in 2007 a major outbreak occurred in a village near the town of Oss, where around 170 fell ill.

This year, the number has risen to 497 from all across the province.

The health authorities say they have no explanation for the sudden increase in the number of infections, adding that they doubt whether the outbreak has been brought under control.

Child Obesity on the rise
AD reports that Dutch hospitals are treating thousands of children for obesity.

Most of the children were referred to special outpatient clinics because their health was seriously at risk.

Data from 15 major hospitals and two clinics show that these institutions intensively treated nearly 3,000 children between the age of four and 18.

Youth health care Professor Remy Hirasing at the Amsterdam university hospital says the figures represent only "the tip of the iceberg".

The latest national study, conducted in 1997, showed that between 400,000 and 600,000 Dutch children were seriously obese.

Professor Hirasing expects that the current number will be substantially higher.

"It's not just the number of children that's increased, but they also get bigger. In addition there is a shift towards a younger age".

Reportedly, one in seven toddlers are overweight, and some hospitals have reported morbid obesity in two-year-olds and three-year-olds.

An Amsterdam dietician says that most of the obese children are from a migrant background.

"They tend to take less exercise....and in some cultures obesity is a sign of prosperity".

Professor Hirasing described the current situation as "a ticking time bomb".

Guerrilla Gardening up
Trouw reports a substantial increase in the popularity of 'guerrilla gardening', a trend that first took root in the UK and the US.

Guerrilla gardening could be loosely defined as local residents taking matters into their own hands to create a greener city environment.

Trouw has several pictures of people lifting paving stones along their houses to plant flowers and shrubs in an attempt to cheer up a rather dreary street in a poor district of Rotterdam.

Even though the practice is officially illegal, a Green party councillor - whose party sponsored the event - says that it's really a godsend for the city council.

"Paying for a few plants for enthusiastic locals is far more effective than initiating a bureaucratic procedure for a public green space that nobody feels involved with."

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]
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