Court gives green light to Formula One race in Zandvoort
A court in Haarlem has rejected claims from environmental groups that the province of North Holland erred when it granted permits to the Zandvoort race track, despite the impact on a species of toad and lizard.
Judges at the district court found on Thursday that exemptions to environmental regulations given by local authorities were made ‘in the public interest’.
The decision means that the first Formula One race in 36 years will go ahead as scheduled on September 5.
A group of five advocacy organisations – De Stichting Duinbehoud, Rust bij de Kust, De Stichting Natuurbelang and Milieudefensie en Mobilisation for the Environment – have brought a series of lawsuits against the province and the race track, claiming authorities improperly gave permits to the race track to expand seating and to build an access road.
An attempt to get a preliminary injunction against the construction work at the track in 2019 was also rejected by the court.
The two complaints at the heart of Thursday’s verdict focused on how building works would impact the breeding group of two protected species: the natterjack toad and the sand lizard.
‘The court finds it acceptable that more than 10 hectares of habitat for protective animal species are lost – a statement that is at odds with nature conservation legislation,’ Stichting Duinbehoud director Marc Janssen told DutchNews.nl. The group intends to appeal against the decision.
Prince Bernhard, the younger brother of king Willem Alexander, and a business partner, purchased the race track in 2016 and have been pushing for a return of a Formula One Grand Prix race, last held on the track in 1985.
In July, the court asked for further research into three other lawsuits, including complaints about the amount of nitrogen oxide the race track will cause and over noise levels. That investigation will take another three months.
The government is also set to give the green light to the Grand Prix, despite the coronavirus pandemic, later on Friday.
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