Kilometre levy to come in 2009

11th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 May 2005 , AMSTERDAM — A government-appointed workgroup has reached a definite deal on the gradual introduction of road pricing, described as a kilometre levy, to reduce traffic congestion and combat air pollution.

11 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — A government-appointed workgroup has reached a definite deal on the gradual introduction of road pricing, described as a kilometre levy, to reduce traffic congestion and combat air pollution.

Workgroup chairman Paul Nouwen said the kilometre levy will be introduced from 2009, starting with four to six of the nation's worst bottlenecks. The system will be introduced nationwide from 2012 or 2014.

"The levy will be lifted once the bottleneck is solved. It is not the intention to pester people out of the car," Nouwen said after the meeting in The Hague on Tuesday night.

The workgroup needed a lot longer than the scheduled two hours to reach an agreement. It took six hours until the director of Dutch motorists association ANWB Guido van Woerkom emerged at about 10.30pm with the announcement there was white smoke and a deal had been reached.

But he denied, as did Nouwen, that a conflict had developed after the chief of employers association VNO-NCW Jacques Schraven launched a surprise attack on the draft deal reached two weeks ago for a phased introduction of the tax, the amount of which will depend on the distance travelled by the motorist.

Schraven said on Monday that before a levy is implemented, work must be started on constructing new motorways and expanding existing roads. He said employers are opposed to a levy on existing infrastructure, rejecting the planned imposition of kilometre levies at 30 bottlenecks.

And after the end of the meeting on Tuesday night, Schraven said he was "not dissatisfied" with the outcome.

Former ANWB chief Nouwen will now present his final report to Transport Minister Karla Peijs in about a week's time. The minister established the workgroup last year to gain broad advice over the introduction of a kilometre levy.

The Parliament is demanding that Peijs introduce a kilometre levy before 2008 to combat worsening traffic congestion and air pollution, which, according to figures released this week, kills 18,000 people prematurely every year.

Van Woerom is keen for motorists to pay based on use instead of a fixed tax — this also means the cleaner a car is, the cheaper the price will be to use it.

Nouwen said initially, the revenue earned by the levy can be used to solve bottlenecks, but this does not necessarily mean the construction of more roads. He suggested as an alternative, the creation of more bus lanes.

The business sector will retain an important voice, with a commercial consortium deciding how bottlenecks are combated in future. Nevertheless, the Dutch government and provinces must approve of the plans.

MPs with the opposition green-left GroenLinks are now requesting a debate with Minister Peijs next Tuesday about the workgroup's findings.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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