The Council of State ruled on Wednesday that car races in Zandvoort including the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix can go ahead as they pose no major “nitrogen” pollution threat to the surrounding nature areas.
“Races may continue as usual,” said Bart Jan van Ettekoven, chairman of the administrative jurisdiction division of the country’s highest judicial body. The next Dutch Grand Prix takes place on Sunday, August 27.
Nature and environmental organisations had appealed against an extended nature permit that the province of North Holland granted to Circuit Zandvoort in 2019.
“We would have preferred to hear something else,” Marc Janssen, director of the Dune Conservation Foundation, told the AD.
Environmental groups, including Mobilisation for the Environment (MOB), are worried about the effects of pollution on the nearby protected Natura 2000 area, Kennemerland Zuid, and specifically on the rare sand lizard and natterjack toad, which live near the track.
The current nature permit from 2019 limits the use of the circuit to a maximum of 337 days per year and keeps nitrogen emissions to 6,124 kg annually. Previously, nitrogen compound emissions were estimated at approximately 10,750 kg per year.
Given the lower emissions and the limitations to using the circuit resulting from the still in effect 2019 permit, the Council of State ruled no new nature permits are required.
“We are of course delighted that the Council of State recognizes that we have acted with due care,” Circuit Zandvoort director Robert van Overdijk told the AD. “More than careful, because the permit was not necessary because there is no increase in nitrogen emissions, but even a decrease.” He also pointed to the economic benefits to the regions.
But “disappointed” lawyer Valentijn Wösten of the environmental group MOB questioned whether the circuit is even in the right place. “It causes serious damage to the nature reserve through nitrogen, noise and large numbers of visitors,” he reportedly said.