Environmentalists threat to Dutch GP


An increasingly powerful environmental group, Mobilisation For The Environment, is posing a major threat to Zandvoort's return to the F1 calendar next year.

Indeed, according to one environmental law expert, there is a "50/50" chance of the event, which has seen ticket sales overprescribed many times over, being cancelled.

In May, the Netherlands highest court, banned the granting of building permits near nature reserves in a bid to reduce nitrogen emissions, and in the months that followed numerous construction projects, including airports, highways and apartment blocks, have been halted.

With the Zandvoort track bordered by the North Sea on one side and a nature reserve on the other, Mobilisation For The Environment has said it will challenge planned construction work at Zandvoort to accommodate next year's race.

"I see a 50/50 chance of this event being cancelled", environmental law expert Sander Lely told Reuters. "It will be incredibly difficult for the organisers to obtain all the necessary permits on time. They will have to prove how they will limit nitrogen emissions, instead of simply promising to emit less during the rest of the year."

Amongst the work planned for Zandvoort is extra grandstands and new access roads.

"This means building cannot yet start", provincial government spokeswoman Martine van der Heuvel told Reuters. "There is a permit for the race itself, but we have not yet received an application for the work on the tracks and in its surroundings."

While confirming that the province is in talks with the organisers over the permits, she was not willing to comment on the timing of the process.

Though widely considered one of the most liberal nations in the world, it remains to be seen how Max Verstappen's army of fans would react to the news that his - and their - home race was under threat.

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Published: 25/09/2019
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