Friends of the Earth Netherlands wins preliminary injunction for clean air

Amsterdam, 7 september 2017 - This morning, the court in The Hague ruled in favour of clean air in a preliminary injunction brought by Milieudefensie [Friends of the Earth Netherlands] against the Dutch government. The court ruled in favour of Milieudefensie on all counts.

This means that the Dutch government must now do everything in its power to urgently meet European air quality standards throughout the Netherlands.

Anne Knol, head of Milieudefensie’s Sustainable Mobility Campaign, responded enthusiastically, stating, ‘This is a complete breakthrough for clean air! We are delighted that the judge has obligated the State to better protect its citizens’ health. Air pollution in the Netherlands must now be seriously addressed so that fewer people become ill or die as the result of air pollution. And this is very hopeful news for the one million respiratory disease sufferers in the Netherlands.’

The judge ordered in the ruling that within two weeks the State must submit a plan to comply with all European limit values in a ‘foreseeable and demonstrable’ manner. The judge also prohibited any measures which would lead to new violations of the law. ‘This is an excellent verdict!’, responded Phon van den Biesen, Milieudefensie’s lawyer. ‘It seldom happens that a judge rules completely in favour of the plaintiff. But it is also high time.’

Main proceedings: the right to health

This, however, does not mean that Milieudefensie believes the problem has been solved. Numerous research studies have shown that European limit values are insufficient to safeguard health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines impose much stricter limit values than the European standards, and Milieudefensie has called on the Dutch state to comply with these. These requirements are part of the main proceedings that Milieudefensie has already initiated. In these main proceedings, Milieudefensie has argued that the Dutch state has violated the human right to health, due to its failure to adequately address air quality. The court will take action on this issue during the main proceedings on 14 November.

For more information on the court case or interview requests, please contact Milieudefensie’s press officer for Sustainable Mobility: Léonie Beunen, email:; tel: (+31) 020 55 07 333/ 06 11 77 03 27.

For questions regarding the legal aspects of this case, please contact Milieudefensie’s lawyer: Phon van den Biesen, tel: (+31) 06 52 06 12 66.