The environmental zone. Transferred files instead of advancing insight.

Rotterdam environmental zone
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The environmental zone troubles kept the minds busy again in recent days. The large cities in North Brabant leave the environmental zone for what it is. "No use," they say in the south of the country. Meanwhile, seriously polluting cruise ships docked in Rotterdam. Nevertheless, there is a chance that the new multi-party coalition (under construction) will gradually phase out the environmental zone. The Council of State acknowledged that the exclusion of old petrol cars does not contribute to improving air quality. Contradictory enough, she did respect the historic decision to allow petrol cars with a date of first admission from before 1 January 1992. And leave the decision making with regard to enforcement and future rules of the environmental zone to Rotterdam politics.

In the meantime, D'66 State Secretary van Veldhoven did not show her strongest side. The Infrastructure and Water Management scribe respected the decision of the Council of State. Rather, she followed this by stating that she makes decision-making regarding petrol cars within national environmental zone policy depend on what will be decided in Rotterdam in the coming period. Van Veldhoven only wanted to include diesels in national policy, but now also wants to get involved in decision-making in the port city. She does not even look at effects on the environment - or rather: the absence of them -.

Local decision determines national policy

And that, while report after report shows that these effects (as with old diesels) are extremely marginal. Enough clarity. But the situation does not match that. Ergo: if Rotterdam says “yes”, national politics will also say “yes”. If Rotterdam says “no”, then national politics does nothing further with regard to old petrol cars. A local decision is therefore the national guideline. Those should have been the reports that prove the opposite of environmental benefit.

Brabant as an example

Of course, Rotterdam is of great political and economic importance to the Netherlands. Yet, for example, the large (er) municipalities in Brabant show that they have no basis whatsoever to set up a money-wasting environmental zone. Common sense rules there. At the same time, the sky-wide difference with cities such as Rotterdam and Utrecht indicates that the Netherlands is thinking on a small scale. Van Veldhoven should have acted on that, and had to state in advance that the imminent proliferation of environmental zones must end immediately. Or even better: abolish completely. For diesels. For LPG vehicles. For gasoline cars.

Possible phased completion in Rotterdam

Fortunately, there is now a vote in Rotterdam to phase out the environmental zone. That is very nice news. The contradiction of the phasing out of the Rotterdam environmental zone is that the threat of a patchwork of environmental zones is increasing as a result. That is another reason why national politics should not make decisions regarding environmental zones depend on what is happening in Rotterdam. Unless the phasing out continues and the local policy in Rotterdam is cast in a national form.

The opportunity for a new infrastructure policy

The developments also offer a starting point for the development of new infrastructure policy. Does the resident of a larger municipality's city center have a vehicle that is older than the age limits that determine whether or not the current environmental zone can be entered? Just admit. Supply traffic must also be able to enter the current zone without any problems. For other traffic, facilities will have to be set up that make it equally attractive to enter city centers. National and uniform regulations must be drawn up for this.

Flabby extracts from the Dutch polder model

In Rotterdam, cruise ships are allowed to continue to pollute LNG and shore power. And in the meantime Lady Justice delays, it passes a file on and indirectly approves the political failings of the old Council in Rotterdam. The developments of recent times were once again an excellent starting point for drawing up national policy and, based on a new Rotterdam example, to phase out the environmental zones nationally. That is a great opportunity for Van Veldhoven, certainly if she indicates that future decisions in the port city will be integrated into national policy. It remains unused. Because Dutch policymakers prefer to continue to pluck the weak extracts from the almost fruitless polder model. And keep yourself in the saddle.

A reaction

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  1. The environmental zone in Antwerp is also an amazing thing. It is clear that something must be done about air quality there. The air is not pleasant there.
    But that is not only due to somewhat older cars in the city center, but mainly due to smelly factories and transit traffic. International freight traffic essentially passes right through the city.

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