The Malieveld, nearby the Dutch government, was completely filled with heavy equipment this Tuesday. The building industry was protesting against the dutch Nitrogen Approach Program and especially the effect that many building projects can not continue because of this. Also the greenhouse industry is affected.
What's the issue
It all has to do with nitrogen, the emission of it and EU rules demanding to limit this. The Dutch Nitrogen Approach Program allowed provinces to compensate for the nitrogen released with construction projects at a later date. This program was declared invalid earlier this years and therefore many new projects are put on hold.
On top of that there is the PFAS issue. PFAS is the collective name for more than 6,000 chemical substances in the soil. A provisional PFAS standard drawn up in July prohibits more than 0.1 microgram of the substance in a kilo of soil. If there's more, additional actions have to take place.
Also greenhouse projects are in trouble because of this. "If the soil balance on a project remains closed, then not straight away, but as soon as raw materials need to be supplied and removed, it will become a problem", say ground workers Dirk-Jan van Daalen and Jan-Pieter Schellekens when discussing the PFAS.
"If you complete all your activities on location, then it does not really apply," says Dirk-Jan from Van Daalen Grond, Weg- en Waterbouw. For that reason, Jan-Pieter Schellekens of Schellekens Totaalprojecten believes that the effect remains limited. "As long as the soil balance on a project remains closed - and that is often the case - the effect is minimal."
Transport distance and costs are increasing
Yet that is quite often not the case in Dirk-Jan's experience. "For example, when filling up a waterway you have to remove the mud and often you also have to buy sand or granulate and then the PFAS standard will be applicable. What you see as a result is that the transport distances for clean raw materials increase and therefore the costs."
This week on the Malieveld, the construction and infrastructure sector is protesting against the standard, that is delaying the issuing of project permits. The protest is supported by growers organisation LTO Nederland. In the meantime, the Council of Ministers is working on an emergency plan about both the nitrogen and PFAS standards.
Closed soil balance
Dirk-Jan himself is also not present at the Malieveld, but he does support the colleagues who are there, also financially as a sponsor of the demonstration. "Fortunately we still have enough work for the time being, so the PFAS does not really hurt us yet. But many colleagues are already out of work. They do have unused equipment with which they are going to the Malieveld."
In time, it is going to affect the greenhouse horticulture sector anyway, thinks Dirk-Jan. "It is sector-wide and as soon as the large parties are affected, that will also have an effect on the greenhouse horticulture market and parties like us who are active in that market. In addition, it has a negative effect on the sentiment in the infrastructure sector and everything that is connected to it. We need a solution and clarity to regain confidence."
View here also a report from ABN-AMRO on the effect of the nitrogen problems on the various sectors, including greenhouse horticulture.
For more information:
Van Daalen Grond-, Weg- en Waterbouw
Dirk-Jan van Daalen
+31 (0)6 2248 3767