AFTER GREEN ELECTION VICTORIES, AMSTERDAM WILL EXPAND BOTH WINDMILLS AND HOUSING

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15 june 2019

[4C Note: This is a shortened and translated version of an article that appeared in the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad on June 15, 2019 under the title `Amsterdam mag windmolens bouwen`]

Amsterdam can build windmills

The new provincial administration of North Holland is more sympathetic to the capital city.

• Thijs Niemantsverdriet. NRC Handelsblad, 15 juni 2019

Amsterdam has for some years been at odds with the rest of North Holland. The capital felt crippled by the province in its ambitious plans, while outside Amsterdam, provincial administrators disliked the dominance and obstinacy of the capital.

But this week North Holland presented its new administration. A coalition of VVD (centrist liberals) Green Left, D66 (left liberals) and PvdA (Labour Party) presented an administrative accord – “Keep Going Sustainably” ("Duurzaam doorpakken’). It’s just an agreement “on principles”, the parties emphasized. “Not a completely worked out program.”

'The coalition parties have tried to solve the two main points of contention between city and provincial authorities - wind mills and housing - by separating policy-making in Amsterdam from that in its surrounding region'.

The provincial windmill policy has for years been a great source of frustration for Amsterdam. The city wanted to construct a great many new turbines, among others on the NDSM shipyard and the western harbor area. The province blocked that: under the pressure of the VVD and the CDA (Christian Democrats), North Holland implemented the most restrictive wind mill policy in the country. But Green Left, which is now the largest party in the provinicial administration and dominates the Amsterdam city administration, demanded that the VVD end the provincial blockade.

City and province reached a compromise. Outside Amsterdam, where resistance to wind mills is high, the old “no, unless” remains the policy for new turbines. In the metropolitan Amsterdam area are they now largely permitted with certain limitations. The Amsterdam city administration jubilantly issued a press release: “Green light for wind mills in Amsterdam.”.

In housing too, there will be differing standards for Amsterdam and the rest of the province. In the near future, the capital city wants to build hundreds of thousands of new apartments and houses to statisfy the expected population increase, including in the new district Harbor-City (“Haven-Stad”). Permission will be granted by the province, but growth mujst be inside the city limits. Outside Amsterdam, communities will be allowed to build in rural areas, but only under strict conditions.

The accord also supports Amsterdam in the area of public transportation. The new provincial administration wants the North-South metro to be extended to Schiphol airport and Hoofddorp…..

Then there is Schiphol. In the provincial election campaign, Green Left spokeswoman Zita Pels promised much about the national airport. She wanted a halt to growth and preference for quiet and low-fuel flights – just as the Amsterdam city administration. In the coalition accord this has been considerably watered down. The new provincial administration will allow Schiphol continued growth, on condition it is “moderate and in balance with the life environment within the existing agreements.” “Quieter and cleaner planes” and “substantially fewer night flights” are a condition for growth, but it is unclear how the province can force the Hague to agree with that, since the central government has a 90% share in Schiphol’s ownership.


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