The Rotterdam environmental zone for passenger cars will be phased out in the coming years. A fresh coalition agreement puts an end to the controversial zone, where older petrol and diesel vehicles were not allowed to drive. He is drastically overhauled. Older petrol cars with a date of first admission from before 1 January 1992 can now enter the zone again. For diesel passenger cars with a date of first authorization from before 1 January 2001, this applies from 1 January 2020. Rejected trucks are not welcome. Rotterdam's municipal policy agrees, and this is not least due to the excellent efforts of the Rotterdam Classics Foundation.
In addition, the Rotterdam decision has led to a firm step in the national simplification of environmental zones. State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven concluded on the basis of the decision in Rotterdam that the refusal of petrol cars is useless. She formulated new rules that will apply from 2020. Each municipality may continue to determine for itself whether it will introduce an environmental zone. If it does, there are two variants for passenger cars: one for diesels of 15 years and older (Euro 4) and one for diesels of 20 years and older (Euro 3).
“This system is simple, enforceable and predictable. It offers municipalities the space to work on their air quality, without compromising clarity for the motorist. In consultation with the municipalities, I make an exception for old-timers, campers and vehicles of people with a disability, ”says the State Secretary of D'66.
New coalition confirms lack of effect on air quality
The Council of State also recently acknowledged the lack of effect of petrol vehicles on air quality. Opponents of the environmental zone were found to be in favor of their content. Yet she supported the (old) municipal administration in the port city. "The municipality is free to take measures, it has acted correctly from a technical point of view." In addition, the RvS indicated that the new coalition was free to deviate from that ruling. That happened last week. The new coalition decided to phase out the environmental zone for passenger cars.
Important role for the Rotterdam Classics Foundation
Stientje van Veldhoven's ambition and newly formulated principles have their origins not least in the intensive and realistic lobby of the Rotterdam Classics Foundation, which works hard behind the scenes. They spent a lot of time in research, conversations and conducted an excellent media campaign via local and national radio and TV stations, interest groups, the national press and the trade press. What particularly adored the Foundation was the fact that it always kept to the facts and remained critical without damaging those with political responsibility. The Rotterdam Classics Foundation also built a genuine community that supported the views of the Foundation. The lack of effect of the environmental zone was also clearly demonstrated by figures.
The Rotterdam Classics Foundation also focused on equal treatment and the extremely small influence of banned cars on air quality. The measure was mainly described as symbolic politics. Niels van Ham et al also argue for a revised infrastructure policy. They repeatedly stated that alternatives must be devised for the congested routes. “It's not about those few older cars. If one wants to make structural changes, the traffic policy or traffic decision will have to be revised. ” The KNAC previously pointed out the redundancy of environmental zones by starting legal proceedings against the municipality of Utrecht. It put the environmental zone problem on the national map.
Using knowledge for good measures in Rotterdam
Is the job for the Rotterdam Classics Foundation now over? "No. That is not entirely correct. We do not yet know exactly what politics will do. The fact is that alternatives have been discussed, even before the decision was taken by the Rotterdam coalition. We would like to contribute ideas and discuss this. Because the knowledge we have gained in recent years about the environmental zone dossier can help for a better city. We are convinced of that. You can do so much more for the city than just keeping a few cars out. ”
Go in the right direction, ask anyway
The new developments are a step in the right direction. Still questions remain. The proportion of old diesels also has no significant impact on air quality. In addition, there are more cars with a Euro 4 than with a Euro 3 diesel engine. If a municipality chooses to ban Euro 3, the effect will even be negligibly small. In addition, owners of the older diesels pay more MRB than with a comparable petrol car, but in Van Veldhoven's strategy they are excluded in municipalities that opt for an environmental zone. That smells like unequal treatment. All in all, the simplification of rules is a step forward, although a uniform national policy without fuel distinction would have been the better solution within the environmental zone file.