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Infrastructure funding secured for the future

From now on, the Infrastructure Fund will be automatically extended every year. This means that funding for roads, railways, regional transport, waterways, and the management and maintenance of Dutch infrastructure is safeguarded for years to come. The same applies to the Delta Fund through which investments in flood risk management and water management are funded.

On behalf of the cabinet, Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and the Environment) announced this today on Prinsjesdag (the state opening of Parliament) in a letter to the House of Representatives. The agreements follow on from the cabinet decision made this spring to extend the Infrastructure Fund in the 2017 budget by two years (from 2028 to 2030).
 
Minister Schultz van Haegen: ‘The Netherlands has excellent infrastructure and this forms a firm foundation for the Dutch economy. To maintain our position as a global leader, in the distant future too, we need to continue to invest in new infrastructure and in new forms of smart mobility. By allowing the fund to be extended automatically, we are ensuring that money will be made available every year. At the same time, our approach ensures greater flexibility so that we can respond better to new developments and innovations.’
 
Environment Minister Dijksma: ‘The increase in passenger numbers in public transport and civil aviation demands constant investment to keep the Netherlands highly accessible. We are working on better utilising railways, large train stations have been tackled, and Schiphol station is being renovated. This growth not only concerns capacity but also sustainability. For example, the climate agreements signed in Paris and the requirements that we set for air quality and noise nuisance demand new, innovative technologies and cleaner fuels. This should make transport in the Netherlands greener.’

In 2017, Ministers Schultz and Dijksma will set aside 5.9 billion euros for new infrastructure, and the management and maintenance of roads, railways and waterways. In addition, 905 million euros will be made available in 2017 through the Delta Fund.

 

Roads

In recent years, investment in road widening has contributed to reducing congestion on the roads. Now that the economy is picking up again, the number of road journeys is increasing and congestion is thus also rising. To cope with this growth, the road network will be further expanded. In 2016, the Delft-Schiedam section of the A4 motorway was completed, a new connection improving traffic flows in the Rotterdam region.
In this cabinet term, 717 km of additional lanes will be made available. Moreover, in 2017 Minister Schultz will be completing the procedures for major, completely new roads which will relieve the pressure on existing roads. This work includes a new crossing to the port of Rotterdam and the Extended A15 motorway in Gelderland. The procedure for the Utrecht Ring Road will also be completed.

 

Faster and more comfortable public transport

In the year ahead too, efforts will be made to further improve public transport. Shorter travel times where possible and comfort for passengers are the priorities. Together with all public transport parties, the alignment of trains, buses, trams and metros will be improved even further. The existing public transport network will be further expanded and utilized more efficiently. For example, from December 2017, trains will run on the Amsterdam-Eindhoven line without a timetable. An intercity train will be running every ten minutes in each direction. The Schiphol interchange will also be tackled. The cabinet has set aside 250 million euros for this purpose under the Schiphol Action Programme.

Traffic innovations

Together with other government authorities and private parties, in 2017 the Ministry will be fully committed to smart mobility and the development of intelligent traffic systems enabling vehicles to communicate with, for instance, traffic lights and traffic control centres in order to improve traffic flows. Legislation will be further amended to allow experiments with self-driving vehicles on public roads without the need for a driver to be present in the vehicles. The development of next-generation traffic information services is well underway. Such services involve real-time travel information about, for instance, an accident or localised icy conditions, which drivers receive via their own navigation system. Drivers can thus anticipate conditions they cannot see but which they will encounter along their route. 

Bring Paris home

A circular economy contributes to the clearly defined goals of the historic climate agreement signed last year in Paris. The agreement states that global warming must at least remain well under two degrees, with the aim of limiting it to one and a half degrees. In October 2016, at the initiative of Environment Minister Dijksma, a National Climate Summit will be held under the motto “Bring Paris Home”. The Netherlands is one of the initiators of international efforts to improve emissions trading schemes, intended to ensure that the emission of greenhouse taxes is more severely taxed. The Netherlands is also taking the initiative of setting down international agreements on the reduction of emissions in the aviation sector by introducing the carbon pricing principle.  In this regard, Minister Dijksma is attending a meeting of the aviation sector next week in Montreal.

Towards a recycle economy in 2050

The cabinet recently presented plans to have the Dutch economy running completely on reusable raw materials by 2050. The reusability of raw materials must be ensured by taking future recycling into account when designing a product. End-of-life products must also be used as a source of new raw materials. In December this year, a raw materials agreement will be signed which sets down these agreements. In 2017, action plans will follow with the aim of reducing the use of raw materials by fifty percent by 2030, so that ultimately in 2050, a one hundred percent circular economy will have been realised. A sum of 27 million euros is being made available for the recycle economy.

A safe and healthy living environment

Over the past decades, many environmental problems have been tackled, risks have been demonstrably reduced, and the living environment has been improved. Chemical substances that are hazardous for humans and the environment have no place in a safe and healthy living environment. For this reason, the Ministry will be signing Safety Deals with the chemical industry next year. Agreements will be made on, for example, transporting fewer chemical substances by road, and on stricter safety requirements for businesses. To accelerate the removal of Dutch asbestos roofs, in 2017 a minimum of 10 million euros will once more be made available for companies and private individuals. The almost 15 million euros made available in 2016 contributed to the replacement of some 8 million square metres of asbestos roofs.

Environmental Planning Bill creates room

The Senate adopted the Environmental Planning Bill in March 2016. In 2017 and 2018, the final sections will be completed of the large-scale legislative operation that eliminated contradictory, vague and superfluous regulations pertaining to the physical living environment. The Environmental Planning Bill replaces 26 existing Acts, and 60 general administrative regulations will be reduced to 4. The Bill is intended to improve the quality of the living environment, increase freedom of choice for entrepreneurs, shorten procedures, and reduce the associated research burden. A single Act, a single permit.

Delta Programme 2017

The increased risk of pluvial flooding and periods of extreme heat or drought due to climate change can have serious consequences, also for the economy. All the authorities involved are therefore going to draw up a joint Delta Plan for the water-resilient and climate-proof spatial planning of the Netherlands. This is set down in the Delta Programme 2017 which was presented today. The Delta Programme now contains a Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management and a Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply. From next year, it will also include a Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation. Regarding flood risk management, the process of embedding the new standards in law is well underway. The aim is to have the bill adopted as of 1 January 2017.