Dutch news in brief, Thursday 18 December 2008

18th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

Dutch spend EUR 20,000 on alcohol in a lifetime
A recent survey among people of 45 and older shows that the average Dutch person spends an estimated EUR 656 a year on alcohol, reports De Telegraaf.

The survey also showed that people who do not drink are happier. Teetotallers on average awarded their lives an 8.8 grade on a scale of one to 10, compared to 8.3 for those who drink.

One in 50 drinkers says they feel ashamed when they dump their empty bottles in the bottle bank. Some of them use different bottle banks or ask people at the bottle bank: "Do you work at a bar too?"

Government launches Markermeer Lake plan
Deputy Water Management Minister Tineke Huizinga who presented her Water Plan guarantees a constant water level in the Markermeer Lake, reports De Telegraaf.  

The lake located north of Amsterdam is a continuation of the larger IJsselmeer Lake. The move is designed to allow for the construction of 1,100 hectares' worth of floating residential districts. Experts say the area will provide space for at least 22,000 new homes.

The site will comprise three separate locations: the largest, at 700 hectares, off the coast near Almere; another, measuring 350 hectares, near the IJburg district of Amsterdam; and the smallest, at 150 hectares, off the coast near Lelystad.

"There will be separate water levels for the IJsselmeer and the Markermeer lakes. In the coming century, the water level of the IJsselmeer Lake may have to rise more than a metre due to global warming and because of its use as a freshwater reservoir. But the level of the Markermeer Lake will remain constant, allowing urbanisation." said Huizinga.  

Water quality in the Markermeer Lake is also set to improve. At present, it leaves much to be desired, but this will have improved drastically by 2015, primarily through the introduction of new wetlands and other measures".
Cabinet set to fail to meet landscape targets
De Volkskrant reports that a government advisory body for environmental and spatial planning says the cabinet will be unable to meet any of the targets it has set itself in the area.

 The PBL criticises government landscape policy as too soft and too vague, saying there is inadequate local enforcement and not enough money to realise the cabinet's targets for preventing fragmentation of the landscape.

 In its recent report Protecting and Developing Landscape, the PBL says the landscape is losing out to the interests of the construction industry.

"The landscape belongs to everyone, and so to no one," said PBL analyst Rienk Kuiper. He argued that the government should make clear who is responsible for the landscape.

However, the cabinet's recently published Landscape Policy fails to do so. Neither does it include a concrete plan for investments in the landscape, even though parliament specifically asked the cabinet to do so.

"So everybody just sits and waits; local councils, provinces and private individuals. And before you know it, another construction project is underway," said Kuiper.
Government policies lead to more working poor
Trouw writes that many working single mothers, sole breadwinners and self-employed people are living below subsistence level.

Judging by European standards, the Netherlands has about 200,000 working poor, said sociologist Erik Snel of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.  

Snel said stricter social security policies are partly responsible for the development. "More people in a weak position are forced to enter the labour market. Some of them are unable to earn an income above subsistence level," he added.

Current government and local council policies are aimed at getting the largest possible number of people to find work. However, it is not clear to what extent people who do find jobs also successfully escape poverty.

The main trade union federation FNV has launched a project to make this demographic more visible. The project is part of an international campaign to improve conditions of employment at the bottom of the labour market.
Calls for more language and arithmetic tests
Two main branch organisations for primary and secondary education will present a report Thursday to the government in which they argue for additional language and arithmetic tests for children in the final grades of primary and secondary schools, reports AD.

The tests are intended to allow the next school to take immediate action to fill any gaps in students' knowledge. The two organisations say the tests are only intended to assess whether the child's development is on schedule and would have no consequences for children.

AD writes that levels of reading, writing and arithmetic skills are falling at all levels of education. Secondary and higher vocational schools are complaining about the substantial arrears in basic skills among first-year students.

The cabinet has earmarked additional funds to improve the situation. Earlier this year, a commission argued that schoolchildren should have to meet standard skill levels at four points in their education career. The main educational organisations have now adopted this advice.
[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

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