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The environment has priority

Due to the increased economic activity, Maasvlakte 2 will shortly cause a gradual increase in polluting emissions from industry and traffic. Without extra measures, this would mean that the air quality in the region would become worse. This is not permitted under the Air Quality Decree 2005 legislation. Compensatory measures must be implemented: there must be an improvement to balance a detriment.

Air quality, limits not to be exceeded

Air pollution is a major problem in the Rijnmond region. There is a lot of industry and motorways are intensively used. The Air Quality Decree stipulates standards/limit values for a large number of substances. The limit values for two of the said substances, NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and PM10 (fine particles), are currently being exceeded at certain places in the Rijnmond region. This breach takes place mainly alongside busy motorways, including certain hinterland connections. However, not all air pollution is 'caused' in the region. The air quality is determined for the most part by soil dust and substances that 'drift across' from neighbouring countries.

Due to the increased economic activity, Maasvlakte 2 will shortly cause a gradual increase in polluting emissions from industry and traffic. Without extra measures, this would mean that the air quality in the region would become worse.

Measures for the future

Based on extensive research (including environmental impact assessments) measures have therefore been formulated. All partners in the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR) - the State, Province, Municipality and Port Authority - have signed an agreement intended to ensure that the measures are actually carried out and in time.  Measures are included in this Air Agreement that ought to prevent the deterioration of the air quality:

  • Enforcement of the environmental limits in the Europoort/Hoek van Holland area
    The prognoses demonstrate that the growth in bulk transfer is responsible for a large part of the increase in fine particulate emissions. Even without Maasvlakte 2, the growth of the bulk sector in the period between 2015 and 2020 would have to be restricted, because the environmental limits would be reached then. In this respect, Maasvlakte 2's development adds little to the deterioration of the air quality. The Province is investigating the opportunities to impose requirements on the further growth in the bulk sector via licence issuance. The notion behind this is: growth is permitted, but not emissions!
  • Reducing road haulage
    This can be done by encouraging inland shipping and rail. Proportionally, trucks pollute more than inland vessels and moreover they do it closer to places where many people live. For this reason, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is encouraging businesses to transport as many containers as possible by train or inland vessel. Presently, almost half of the containers (49%) go by truck. This proportion will become ever more favourable; the percentage will drop to 35% by 2033 (the year that Maasvlakte 2 is planned to be in full operation). No sticking points are expected for inland shipping or on the railway.
    Promotion of cleaner engines in inland shipping
    The use of these is mandatory from 2025.
  • Imposition of dynamic speed regulation
    On the A15 between Rozenburg and Beneluxplein junction. On the A4 between Beneluxplein and the Benelux tunnel.

A large part of the extra pollution will be solved through these measures, although something extra is needed around the A15. Screens are being erected to eliminate the extra pollution there. The partners making the agreements do not see this as a primary solution. The substances are indeed better distributed by the screens, but they still just end up in the air. It is better to attack the air pollution at source. For this reason, the collaborating parties are committing themselves in the agreement to continue seeking effective source measures that are a substitute for the screens.

Air pollution is declining

Through these measures, the growth of the port and the associated transport can continue, while the environmental quality is also improved. It is already the case that the industrial air pollution in the region is decreasing steeply thanks to strict environmental measures. Cleaner traffic, cleaner central heating boilers and cleaner industry are slowly but surely improving the air quality in Rijnmond.