Hague warned over country's dirtiest street

5th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

5 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — Environment group Friends of the Earth has warned it will take legal action against the city council in The Hague if it does not take action against air pollution in a street branded the dirtiest in the Netherlands.

5 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — Environment group Friends of the Earth has warned it will take legal action against the city council in The Hague if it does not take action against air pollution in a street branded the dirtiest in the Netherlands.

Tests by the Government Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) have shown that the Stille Veerkade and its extension the Amsterdamse Veerkade have air pollution levels double the limit permitted by the European Union.

The road has been known as the Netherlands' worst air pollution area for years. Friends of the Earth (Milieudefensie) sent a letter to Transport Minister Karla Peijs and The Hague Council on Tuesday demanding action.

If any improvement is not noticed, the environmental lobby group warned it would take legal action. It forms part of 'The Netherlands in Breathing Difficulty' campaign, which was initiated to demand greater attention for air quality.

Friends of the Earth said the amount of fine particles in the air must not breach the EU limit of 50 micrograms per cubic metre more than 35 days per year. But that limit is breached 80 days per year on the Stille Veerkade and the Amsterdamse Veerkade.

"There is no reason at all to assume that it will be less this year," group spokesman Joris Wijnhoven said, adding that the biggest cause of pollution is the through traffic to and from the A12 motorway and trucks.

Friends of the Earth demanded that trucks been banned from the two roads after 11.30am. It also urged for a ban on traffic from the Utrechtsebaan (A12) to the city street and that no regional buses be allowed to travel on the Veerkades.

Closing entry and exit ramps to motorways is a matter for the national government, which is why the organisation also sent a letter to Minister Peijs. It demanded a reaction within eight weeks.

"We hope that a court case against The Hague Council and the minister will serve as an example for residents in other Dutch cities where the regulations are being breached. In every large city you can find a couple of these dirty streets," Wijnhoven said.

If the legal battle ends in success, Friends of the Earth said pressure will be brought to bear for more far-reaching measures such as a kilometre tax, a rise in the price of diesel, reduction in speed limits on motorways and legislation demanding the use of cleaner motors.

Alderman Marinus Smits said the environment group had acted prematurely, and he claimed that the council would release  an action plan at the start of June to further reduce traffic in the city centre. He said the plan was not just targeted at the Veerkades.

Smits said if the exit from the A12 is closed, the implication would be felt in other parts of the city. He also said black particles were being blown to the city street from other regions in The Hague.

The Lower House of Parliament is scheduled to discuss on Thursday a plan from Environment State Secretary Pieter van Geel to adjust present conventions on air quality.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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