At least fourteen major infrastructure projects have been delayed for years. This is partly due to a shortage of nitrogen experts, Minister Mark Harbers (Infrastructure and Water Management, VVD) wrote on Thursday. in a letter to the House of Representatives† Another factor is that raw materials such as steel, wood, concrete, copper and fuel have risen sharply in price and there are supply problems due to the war in Ukraine and the aftermath of the corona pandemic. The plans have been delayed “at least two years”. “At the moment no concrete planning can be made for these projects.”

    Among the delayed projects (pdf) is the planned widening or expansion of a number of highways, such as the A58 from Eindhoven to Tilburg and the A7 and A8 between Amsterdam and Hoorn† The improvement of a number of waterways is also being postponed, such as between the IJsselmeer and Meppel

    Priority

    The ministry has also made a list of eleven building plans that will be given priority in collaboration ‘with the relevant regional authorities’. This includes improving the A4 around The Hague and the construction of a number of new roundabouts in Zeeland† The ministry used seven criteria to determine whether a project was given priority or not. Improving road safety, removing major congestion bottlenecks and a ‘balanced distribution across the country’ played a part in this, among other things.

    Two weeks ago, the cabinet presented the nitrogen targets that the Netherlands must meet in 2030, and it became clear that this will have far-reaching consequences for the Dutch agricultural sector. But the industrial and traffic sectors are also responsible for nitrogen emissions and will have to reduce them. For the construction of roads and waterworks, Harbers writes, it is necessary to draw up nitrogen calculations in order to assess the consequences for nature.

    However, the number of experts who can make these calculations and assessments is ‘limited’. “Because not all projects can make use of the available experts at the same time, choices have to be made,” says Harbers. According to him, this was a difficult choice, because it concerns projects “necessary to keep the Netherlands accessible, safe and liveable”.

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