Nitrogen emission failings may hit 18,000 building projects: NRC

Residential housing projects have been delayed. Photo:

Up to 18,000 construction projects may be affected by a recent Council of State ruling on nitrogen emissions, the NRC said on Friday.

Unpublished agriculture ministry documents indicate that not only big infrastructure projects, but local issues such as expanding pig farms, are being hit by the nitrogen problems, the paper said.

The plan, Programma Aanpak Stikstof, was launched in 2015 with the aim of reducing nitrogen emissions (including ammonia and nitrous oxide) in environmentally-sensitive areas such as the Veluwe. It enabled projects which led to additional nitrogen emissions to go ahead, as long as there was compensation at a later date.

The Council of State said in May that this strategy was not effective enough. In addition, the council said, the methods used to calculate current and potential emissions were not accurate.

By ruling the PAS strategy to be ineffective, the council effectively called a halt to every project which could lead to an increase in nitrogen emissions, whether a chicken shed or an entire residential development.

The Telegraaf quoted the example of an emissions-neutral nursing home project bordering a nature reserve which has been hit by the ruling. Although the building itself will not contribute to nitrogen pollution, the lorries driving to and from the building site will, hence the construction stop.

Plans to increase the speed limit on some roads have also been cancelled and a number of major residential projects in Eindhoven and The Hague are now in doubt.

Farm minister Carola Schouten had been due to brief MPs on the latest situation this week but has now delayed this until the end of next week.

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