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Porthos ruling has major consequences for Dutch construction sector

The Council of State in the Netherlands gave a ruling in the so-called Porthos case which revolves around the exemption currently in place for nitrogen emitted during the construction of major projects such as housing. The Administrative Law Division of the Council of State ruled that the partial construction exemption violates the Habitats Directive. According to Rogier Kegge, Assistant Professor in constitutional and administrative law, this ruling is no surprise in view of the previous ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU on the Integrated Approach to Nitrogen (Programma Aanpak Stikstof). However, the ruling in Porthos has major consequences for the construction sector in the Netherlands.

The approach for specific sectors that the exemption envisaged is now under threat. Each construction project will have to independently investigate its impact in line with the Habitats Directive. Each independent study costs time and money and is sure to lead to more delays in construction projects. This ruling comes as no surprise. Actually, it should have been a case of once bitten, twice shy for the government. The partial exemption was put together too hastily. A clear and appropriate assessment should have been made, Kegge told BNR Nieuwsradio.

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