It's officially autumn but there's a warm, sunny weekend ahead

It’s officially autumn but there’s a warm, sunny weekend ahead

While there many be lights showers in western parts of the Netherlands on Friday, the weekend will be warm with sunny spells, weather forecasters say. The temperature is set to hit 19 degrees on Saturday, as warmer southern air blows into the country. And the warm sunny weather will continue into next week, according to the latest KNMI forecast. Sunday will have the best of the sunshine, with temperatures up to 21 degrees in the south, according to Weeronline.nl. It will remain dry with sunny spells and temperatures around 18 degrees until Thursday at least.   More >



'Driving schools are failing learners'

--Funeral insurer charges families extra fees despite court ruling: Volkskrant Fewer than half of learner drivers in the Netherlands pass their test first time and that is not enough, according to driving examination bureau CBR. The CBR, together with motoring organisation Bovag and various driving school associations, has written to the transport ministry calling for better standards for driving schools and instructors, the Telegraaf said on Friday. Unlike in some countries, learner drivers in the Netherlands are only allowed to take to the roads with accredited teachers and cannot practice with a parent or friend. Lessons cost around €60 an hour and learner drivers need at least 20 hours of teaching. In particular, driving schools should only be allowed to put someone forward to take the test if they have a real chance of passing, the examiners say. ‘We sometimes get candidates who have only had four hours of lessons, ‘ Peter van Neck of driving school association VRB  told told the paper. ‘That is just bizarre.’ The VRB says the trend towards bargain offers is having an impact. ‘You get 10 lessons and a test.’ Van Neck said. ‘You should know in advance you are being ripped off. But they still show up for their exam.’  More >


The Netherlands is losing its woodlands

--Funeral insurer charges families extra fees despite court ruling: Volkskrant The Netherlands has been losing 13.5 square kilometres of woodland every year since 2013, according to researchers at Wageningen University. They base their calculations on maps and aerial photographs of the Dutch countryside. ‘Up to 2013, we were planting more woods because farmers were getting subsidised to grow trees,’ researcher Erik Arets told broadcaster NOS. ‘But since then, we have been losing our woods.’ In Groningen and Drenthe woods are being replaced by farmland while in Noord-Brabant heather fields are taking over from trees. Increased urbanisation is also costing trees, the researchers say. 'Our research shows that deforestation is not just something that happens in tropical countries and needs to be taken into account from the perspective of climate change,' Arets said. 'Action to combat deforestation should have an important role in policy.'   More >



Dutch prosecutors reach $274m Telia deal

Funeral insurer charges families extra fees despite court ruling: Volkskrant Three Rotterdam based subsidiaries of Swedish telecom giant Telia have agreed to pay $274m in an out of court settlement for bribing government officials and keeping inaccurate books and records. The fine relates to the company’s efforts to gain access to the Uzbek telecom market and thereafter, during which officials paid bribes to the eldest daughter of the former president of Uzbekistan via its Dutch subsidiaries, the public prosecution department said. The deal covers the period 2007 to 2010. Telia has also reached settlements with the US department of justice and the US securities and exchange commission. In total, the company has agreed to pay $965m to settle the charges. The Netherlands considers the fine as ‘appropriate’, the Dutch prosecutor said in a statement. ‘It is a punishment that hurts, and it does justice to the significance of the acts committed as well as to the disruption these acts caused to the legal order.  The parallel [US] government action against corruption demonstrates that corruption is tackled internationally.’  More >


Sports pitch crumb rubber again under fire

Green groups head for court over sports pitch crumb rubber pollution Dutch environmental organisations have made a formal legal complaint about the use of crumb rubber made from old tyres on sports fields. Recycling Network, an umbrella group of green groups, says local authorities, sports clubs and used-tyre firms have committed a criminal offence because heavy metals in the rubber are leaching into the ground. The use of crumb rubber on sports fields hit the headlines last year over fears that it may be exposing players to cancer-causing substances. Recycling Network said in a statement that ‘covering thousands of sports fields with millions of kilos of chopped up tyres is leading to the leaching of a large amount of zinc and other risks to the environment.’ This, the organisation said, ‘is not good recycling but breaking waste disposal rules. This is why we have approached the public prosecution department.’ The Recycling Network says the environment ministry was warned in 2006 that the concentration of zinc in ground and surface water is breaking formal guidelines. Health concerns Every year, some 500,000 kilos of used car tyres are turned into crumb rubber and spread on sports fields in the Netherlands. Last December, public health body RIVM said taking part in sports on artificial turf pitches which include crumb rubber made from old tyres is not a health hazard. Only a very small amount of dangerous chemicals in the crumb – namely heavy metals, black carbon, and oils that contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – are released during sport and the risk to health is negligible, the RIVM said. Nevertheless, the organisation recommended that the current standards crumb rubber has to be toughed up. Currently sports pitches meet industrial standards but not those set for consumers. The rules governing the use of crumb rubber should be brought more into line with consumer protection levels, the RIVM said.  More >