Zandvoort council has warned it may need a further cash injection to ensure next year’s Dutch Grand Prix can go ahead, but this is unlikely to be as big a hurdle as the impending environmental court battle likely to plague the planners for a GP in Holland next year.
The race circuit and the local council has admitted in its latest budget statement, that a number of costs associated with staging the race were not included in its €7 million estimates, this includes a significant contribution to upgrade the train station to cope with the anticipated flood of Max Verstappen fans.
The council is putting up €4 million towards the cost of the race, with central government contributing €2.35 million and the province of Noord-Hollland providing the rest. Zandvoort has not specified how much it would need to make up the shortfall, but there are questions as to whether the circuit can stump up the remainder.
A bigger problem the organisers face is from an environment body called the Mobilisation for the Environment who are also throwing themselves into the battle against the circuit planners, claiming that the Grand Prix does not have its permits in order.
According to AD.nl, this litigation puts Formula 1 of Zandvoort further into dire straits, as the environmental organisation goes to court to try and put a stop to the necessary renovations to the circuit to make it suitable to host an F1 race.
In doing so, the organisation joins the list of nature conservation clubs that have already filed a lawsuit, including the Dune Conservation Foundation, Rest at the Coast, Friends of the Noord-Holland Nature and Environment Federation and Friends of Middenduin.
Environmental activist Johan Vollenbroek, on behalf of Mobilisation for the Environment, says that the Grand Prix would emit a large amount of nitrogen pollution that is alleged to damage the surrounding natural environment, and the existing permit is based on quicksand derived from a previous permit that had already expired in 2006.
Should the courts deem it necessary, the government will have to draw up stricter planning rules and take direct action such as reducing speed limits to curb nitrogen emissions around designated nature conservation areas, obviously making F1 racing rather impossible.
Minister Bruno Bruins (Sport) stated this weekend that the cabinet will do everything in its power to allow the Formula 1 race to continue, despite the problems with nitrogen.
“The whole country is looking forward to it and it will be fantastic to hear the “vroom!” on May 3 next year,” he told WNL op Zondag.
Leaked memos suggest that not all the coalition parties share the minister’s enthusiasm. Gert-Jan Segers, leader of the Christian Union (CU), said the race was ‘not at the top of my wish list’ in the wake of the nitrogen ruling.
Still, F1 and Liberty Media supports Bruins and will try and claim that the overall nitrogen won’t exceed limits when taking into account the fact that extra emissions around the event will be compensated by lower emissions on other days, for example when it’s not possible to race due to the renovation work.
Experts such as professor of environmental law Chris Backes, thinks that F1 will have a hard time to substantiate this in court saying that the nitrogen released during the renovation may be temporary and short-lived, but it does accumulate in the adjacent nature reserve.
There is a good chance that these environmental organisations will succeed in blocking Formula 1 by means of legal proceedings says Sander Lely, a lawyer who was one of the founders of the Climate Case that Urgenda Foundation won from the Dutch state. If not canceled altogether, they will certainly cause F1 a huge delay in bringing the Grand Prix back to Holland.
According to AD.nl:
“The decision to bring Formula 1 to the Netherlands was taken when the Nitrogen Action Programme (PAS) was still in operation. Now we live in a different time.
“The Council of State ruled this spring that the PAS is no good. The extra nitrogen emissions from new activities must not be offset by measures that will only lead to lower emissions in the future. This also applies to Formula 1, according to Lely. The organisation cannot count itself rich by assuming that there will be less emissions around the circuit for the rest of the year.”
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