Dutch state doesn’t have to remediate environmental shortcomings
A The Hague court judge in the Netherlands has ruled that the Dutch State didn’t comply with European and WHO criteria for clean air, but he can’t oblige the government to do so.
The environmental organization Milieudefensie, the Adem Foundation and some 57 individual citizens didn’t obtain a confirmation in any of their claims. “There is no treaty declaration that asks the Dutch State to comply with regulations within a certain time frame”, states the Court.
A major disappointment for them, as a few months earlier a judge had agreed with the complainers in summary proceedings.
Infraction yes, obligation no
It is noteworthy to see that the Court in The Hague admits that the air quality in the Netherlands doesn’t meet the European standards, but that it also states “that it hasn’t been proven that complainers suffered some damage from it”.
Anne Knol from Milieudefensie is disappointed: “The judge confirms that limits are surpassed and that there is a proven negative influence on people’s health, so we have no other choice than to go for higher appeal.”
Anne Knol again: “In our country people die on average 13 months earlier because of pollution with NOx and extra small particles. This ruling proves that the Dutch government doesn’t care about public health.”
Wim Voermans, a law professor at Leiden university considers the verdict as a complete change from earlier rulings. “In another case (the Urgenda ruling where the state was convicted) the situation was almost the same but the result was completely opposite. There also the higher appeal can lead to a change in judgement.”