Dutch to cut speed limits to reduce emissions

<i> Image: Pexels </i>
<i> Image: Pexels </i>

The Netherlands will cut daytime speed limits on motorways to 100km/h to deal with a pollution crisis that has sparked protests by farmers, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Wednesday.

The government is grappling with how to reduce emissions of nitrogen and ammonia after a court ruled earlier this year that its current policies breach European Union rules.

The new speed limit, expected to be introduced in 2020, will be the joint lowest in Europe along with Cyprus. Cars will be allowed to drive at the current limit of 130km/h only at night, between 19:00 and 06:00.

"No one likes this," Rutte told a press conference, saying it was a "rotten measure".

But he said it was needed "to stop the Netherlands from coming to a halt".

In May a Dutch court ruled that the government was breaching EU rules to protect nature reserves from gases such as ammonia and nitrous oxide.

Major building projects for roads and airports have been put on hold in the eurozone's fifth biggest economy as the government seeks ways to meet the court order.

It has also brought in changes to farmers' working methods, for example for animal feed -- sparking huge protests involving thousands of tractors, one of which caused the country's biggest ever traffic jam.

The new speed limit is partly designed to show the farmers that other parts of society must also take some of the pain of dealing with the crisis, Dutch media said.

The speed limit cut was opposed by Rutte's centre-right VVD party -- which was dubbed the "Vroom-vroom" party after it successfully campaigned to have the national limit raised to 130km/h in 2012.

But Rutte compromised with more environmentally-minded parties in order to preserve his fragile ruling coalition.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Who should have replaced Sergio Perez at this weekend's British GP?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Sebastian Vettel - At least he'll get a taste of what the 2021 car will be like
26% - 557 votes
Nico Hulkenberg - He's been with the team before
27% - 577 votes
Fernando Alonso - A true racer, and the fastest Spaniard around
33% - 703 votes
Jenson Button - Any team can benefit from a champion driver
13% - 278 votes