NS warns travellers about Tuesday's public transport strike

Dutch railway company NS is recommending travellers avoid the train on Tuesday when a nationwide transport strike is set to hit. There will be either very limited services or no trains at all, NS said on Friday. 'We don't know how many people are going to strike, so we cannot say which trains will be operating and which won't,' a spokesman said. The 24-hour strike may also have a knock-on effect on Wednesday. Dutch train drivers and public transport workers in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague will go on strike on May 28 in a campaign to have the state pension age frozen at 66 and to ensure pensions rise in line with inflation. The FNV trade union federation wants the cabinet to commit to keeping the state pension age at 66. It is being gradually increased in three-month increments and will hit 67 years and three months by 2024. The engineering and construction workers unions will also stage an all-out strike on May 29 and the FNV has called on other sectors to join the campaign.  More >

Dutch company in biodiesel scandal: VK

Officials are investigating the role of a Dutch biodiesel company in a major fraud involving the alternative energy source, the Volkskrant said on Thursday. According to the Volkskrant, the Dutch arm of the investigation focuses on one company - Biodiesel Kampen - which makes the fuel out of old frying fat. While the company's name has not been released by officials, Kampen lost its sustainability certification on May 8 and has refused to answer questions, the Volkskrant said. According to documents sent to parliament by the transport ministry this week, the fraud dates back to 2015 and 2016. Government inspectors suspect that 59% of the biodiesel sold by the company in 2015 was wrongly certified as sustainable. That year the company was responsible for almost one third of the total Dutch biodiesel production, the paper said. Some 70% of Dutch biodiesel is made from old cooking fat. Earlier this month, four people were arrested and addresses raided in Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium in a joint Anglo-Dutch investigation into biodiesel fraud. All four have since been released. That investigation centres on British road fuel supplier Greenergy which owns two of Europe’s largest waste-to-biodiesel plants and will open a third in Amsterdam later this year. The investigation with the Dutch authorities concerns 'certain aspects of biodiesel trading at Greenergy and various third parties', Britain's Serious Fraud Office said.  More >

Laughing gas emissions unnoticed: NRC

A factory at the Chemelot industrial complex in Limburg has been pumping out nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, for decades without the greenhouse gas emissions being officially measured, the NRC has found. Chemelot is home to two other factories which produce the gas but the existence of a third factory was not noticed until 2017, the paper said. As a greenhouse gas, N2O is 265 times stronger than CO2. The emissions from the factory, which makes a plastic component called acrylonotril, increases the total of laughing gas emissions from the complex by 50%. According to the government health and safety board RIVM, Chemelot should have registered the emissions but did not do so until 2017 when it told the provincial authorities of the omission. The RIVM has now upped its official estimates of greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands dating back to 1990. Chemelot told the paper that a technical solution for the emissions, which do not have a legal limit, will cost around €100m. The situation has been brought to the attention of the ministry of economic affairs and climate and may be discussed at next month’s presentation of the cabinet’s new climate measures, the NRC said.  More >

Locals threaten action over Tata pollution

The inhabitants of the seaside village of Wijk aan Zee are threatening to take the Noord Holland provincial authorities to court for turning a blind eye to what they say are unlawful emissions by nearby Tata Steel and Harsco, the Volkskrant reports. Action group IJmondig has engaged law firm Prakken d’Oliveira in a bid to force the authorities to act. In a letter to the province, the law firm writes that ‘residents have been continually exposed to unlicenced emissions, grey and orange dust clouds, a rain of graphite and other deposits’. Among the health problems cited are respiratory complaints, headaches, nausea and concentration problems. A spokesman for Tata Steel said the legal move is surprising as IJmondig and the company are in talks to limit the impact of its industrial activities. The Volkskrant said the spokesman is referring to a graphite soot chamber due for completion in 2020 which Tata Steel claims will solve the problem. Effective However, IJmondig lawyer Bondine Kloostra said the province granted permission to build the chamber without a proper investigation into whether or not it would be effective against the pollution. ‘It’s being used as an excuse so the company can claim it is taking action,’ Bondine told the paper. Harsco, an American company which is producing the graphite by processing Tata Steel slag, was last year revealed to have worked without the required environmental permit between 2014 and 2016. Tata Steel itself is accused by the law firm of breaching ‘emission limits’. Noord Holland, which said it would investigate the claims, has four weeks in which to respond to the letter.  More >

Fastned IPO set for June 14

Dutch company Fastned, which is building a European network of fast charging stations for fully electric vehicles, will list on the Amsterdam stock exchange on June 14. The company says the listing will bring more 'flexibility in financing and better access to the capital markets. Since its launch in 2012, Fastned has built a network of 97 fast charging stations in its domestic market, the UK and Germany, of which most are in the Netherlands. The company also plans to open in Belgium, France and Switzerland, where it recently won a tender for 20 locations. 'With over five years of experience in building and operating a network of fast charging stations, we are well positioned to benefit from the accelerating transition to full electric vehicles,' said chief executive Michiel Langezaal. It is not yet clear how many shares the company intends to sell or how much capital it is planning to raise. The company is currently listed on the alternative trading platform Nxchange. Fastned, which has a workforce of 50, booked turnover of €1.6m in 2018 and made a loss of €6.3m.   More >

KLM rolls out long-haul luggage charges

KLM passengers travelling on budget fares will have to pay an extra €100 to take luggage on long-haul flights from this week as the flag carrier tries to compete with low-cost airlines. Passengers booking at the 'light' rate will pay on average 10 to 15% less to fly if they travel with hand luggage only, but if they turn up at the airport with a suitcase it will cost them an extra €100. Flexible tickets, which include hold luggage and can be rebooked without penalty, cost €150 more. Harm Kreulen, CEO of KLM, told the Telegraaf the move was a response to the cut-throat competition between airlines for passengers. 'Within Europe and on flights to the US we have gradually removed hold luggage from the lowest price categories. Now the rest of the world will follow, with a handful of exceptions.' Members of the Flying Blue frequent flyers' club will also be able to check in their hold luggage for no extra cost. 'Hand baggage will remain free of charge on long-distance flights with limits on size and weight.' Kreulen said half of KLM passengers flying long-haul did not take suitcases with them. The airline is considering bringing in charges for larger items of hand luggage in order to deal with the problem of limited space in the cabin. 'The no-frills fares have led to a lot of delays and irritation on flights in Europe because we can no longer get all the hand luggage on board,' he said.  More >