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Professor of Environmental Law: ‘Milieudefensie’s claim didn’t come from thin air’

Prof. Van der Veen on the lawsuit against the Dutch state
08 September 2017

Professor of Environmental Law Gerrit van der Veen was a guest on the NPO Radio 1 programme Nieuws en Co on Thursday 7 September. He spoke about how Milieudefensie, Friends of the Earth Netherlands, took the Dutch state to court and won. Milieudefensie believes that current government plans to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in the air are too vague. It therefore took the state to court.

Van der Veen was present at the verdict and says that it is unsurprising that the state is now taking rapid action: ‘A delay of two-and-a-half years for nitrogen dioxide and six-and-a-half years for particulate matter: this is in clear breach of the European rules. These are hard and binding rules that citizens have the right to invoke. If it takes too long, I fully understand that, in this case, Milieudefensie and a number of others would go to court to receive confirmation of what can be expected.’

Concentration levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in Dutch air

Today, Geodienst , the spatial expertise centre of the University of Groningen, will present maps showing concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in Dutch air. Take a look at the maps below to find out the concentration of these pollutants in the area where you live.

'Clean air is a state responsibility'

Professor Van der Veen believes that it will be difficult for the Cabinet to do something to address the bad results within two weeks: ‘The judge was very clear: they have two weeks to identify the problem areas and the areas where the European standards are still not being met. The state must also speed up preparations for a plan.’ Van der Veen notes that the court was clear that it is the responsibility of the state to reduce the concentration of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in the air. ‘The question is therefore how much room for manoeuvre is there for the state and the other parties with which it wishes to negotiate, such as municipalities who want something else or something less.’

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Last modified:04 June 2021 09.26 a.m.
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