Van Esch’s contribution to licensing, supervision and enforcement

September 13, 2022

Mr. Chairman, Mrs. Hagen has already made some very sharp points. I can join that. Saves time again, we say.

I start with the head of public sentiment which is: Jeez Mina, how long will it take?

How long will it take before the environment, animals and humans are protected and we no longer see in the news that the environment and our living environment are being poisoned?

Recently, we’ve seen several examples of companies that are legally allowed to cause disease in the living environment, through a permit. I will not dwell too much on the chief of events, but this shows that we never go beyond talking about accidents.

Because in addition to legally causing environmental pollution, we also have companies that do not have a permit to make the environment sick, but we feel called to do so anyway: Chemours and Tata.

Chemours, for example, transports waste containing PFAS across the border into Belgium, where the PFAS is discharged into the water by a waste treatment company – without a permit – and still flows into the already highly polluted Western Scheldt.

Raw coke from Tata Steel – which causes harmful emissions and nuisance – is not allowed but does happen.

It is therefore very important to speed up the implementation of the recommendations of the Van Artsen Commission, so that the system of licensing, supervision and enforcement is structurally improved and environmental damage is prevented.

But I do not feel this urgency in the Secretary of State’s letter; The Secretary of State is hesitant and does not seem to dare to strike her fist on the table.

What has changed appreciably, eighteen months (!) after the publication of the Van Artsen Commission’s report? How is the environment better protected from emissions and discharges of pathogens than it was eighteen months ago?

There is now a 30-page program plan. But we can’t wait until the end of 2023 to implement all the recommendations, as the polluting industry can still control everything in the meantime!

Enough has been talked. Health should be number one, and thus this Secretary of State must make drastic choices.

As a Secretary of State, go look at all the available dump permits and draw the line: Permits that allow businesses to dump disease-causing materials should be repealed. There must be a file the totalProhibit the use and discharge of PFAS.

Please reply and not reply that it is not within the purview of this Secretary of State.

Mr. Chairman, I would now like to go into some of the Van Artsen Commission’s recommendations in more detail. And sorry, it’s a bit technical now.

In Recommendation No. 3 “Criminal Enforcement and Prosecution,” former Secretary of State Van Weinberg indicated that he would seek advice from the State Council on how best to organize the enforcement authority for environmental crimes and the VTH system at the central government level.

How about this advice request? We are very curious why he came here.

With respect to Recommendation 4 “The Essential Package for Environmental Services,” the Secretary of State is developing a “Circular” on the final interpretation of the Essential Package. These are the tasks that apply to all environmental services in the Netherlands.

Will PFAS and ZZS regulation also be included in a bass stakes package? That seems very logical to us.

In addition, environmental services lag behind in updating indirect discharge permits.

When will we finally start updating and updating these passes and when do we expect to update all the passes?

Because in the meantime everyone releases whatever they want without us having any idea about it.

Finally, Recommendation No. 9 “Prepare the National Oversight of Environmental Services”.

The Van Artsen Commission concluded, among other things, that there was no central government control and that the system’s responsibility for the minister in its current form was utopian. The recommendation to rectify is the imposition of governmental oversight by the ILT.

BUT: Because of how this recommendation is now implemented, ILT will play a much smaller role than described in the recommendation.

Why does the Secretary of State not seem to understand that it is necessary to regain control and put things in order?

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