Measures to tackle air pollution

The government monitors air quality. If there is too much air pollution, public authorities at the national, provincial or municipal level take action.

Risks of air pollution

Air pollution has a negative impact on the natural environment and is harmful to human health. For example, fine particulates and nitrogen dioxide can cause premature death. Air pollution can also lead to respiratory problems, increase lung cancer deaths and worsen the symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Annual air quality monitoring

The government assesses air quality every year. The results of these checks can be viewed in the air quality monitoring tool and the air quality monitoring report.

Extra measures to tackle air pollution

If the annual air quality check shows that the Netherlands is not on track to meet the targets set out in the National Air Quality Cooperation Programme (NSL), the government takes extra measures at national or local level.

Low-emission zones for diesel-powered cars

As of 1 January 2020, national rules apply to municipalities that have low-emission zones, also known as environmental zones. In these zones municipalities may ban older diesel cars, lorries and buses that cause a lot of air pollution. Local authorities have until 29 October 2020 to bring existing local rules for low-emission zones into line with the national rules. Check the rules that apply in each municipality on Milieuzones.nl.  

Under the national rules, the emissions standard of your diesel car, van, lorry or coach determines if your vehicle is allowed to enter a low-emission zone. Diesel cars that are no more than 20 years old in 2020 and meet the Euro 3 emissions standard or higher are allowed in yellow low-emission zones. Diesel cars that meet the Euro 4 emissions standard or higher are allowed in the green zone. In 2020, these cars, lorries or buses will be 15 years old at most. You can check what emissions standard your vehicle meets on Milieuzones.nl.

Cars, vans, coaches and lorries that run on any fuel other than diesel are allowed in all low-emission zones. 

All new buses zero-emission from 2025

From 2025 all new public transport buses must be zero-emission. They will run on either electricity or hydrogen fuel, both generated from renewable sources like solar and wind, and cause significantly less air pollution. Central government, all provincial authorities and public transport companies signed an agreement stating those terms on 15 April 2016.

Local authorities can use low-emission zones to keep the most polluting lorries out of certain parts of their municipality, like the city centre.

Lower parking fees for cleaner vehicles

The government is working on new laws that will allow lower parking fees to be charged for vehicles that cause less pollution.

Air quality around sensitive receivers

Buildings, like schools, that are designated as sensitive receivers may not be built near provincial roads and motorways. This is laid down in the Sensitive Receivers (Air Quality Requirements) Decree (Besluit gevoelige bestemmingen (luchtkwaliteitseisen)). Sensitive receivers can only be built or expanded if the limit values for air quality are not exceeded.

Programme to meet air quality standards

The National Air Quality Cooperation Programme (NSL) aims to ensure that the Netherlands meets the European limit values on air quality. All tiers of government are working together to improve air quality. The NSL will continue until the Environment and Planning Act enters into effect.

Air quality is improving

NSL monitoring shows that concentrations of fine particulates and nitrogen dioxide are continuing to drop. Air quality has improved and the number of people exposed to excessive air pollution levels has decreased. Currently, pollution levels are consistently below the EU limit values in almost all parts of the Netherlands. Air quality is lower in a few areas around livestock farms and in a number of inner-city districts.

To improve air quality in those areas, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management added more than 100 extra measures to the NSL in 2018.