Finance

Cabinet allocates 270 million euros for sustainable construction machines

This is what outgoing State Secretary Steven van Weyenberg of Infrastructure and Water Management writes in a letter to the House of Representatives. “Conversion or replacement of polluting construction equipment costs a lot of money,” he says. “That’s why we like to give building contractors a helping hand.”

Nitrogen crisis

The scheme is a result of the nitrogen crisis that has gripped construction for more than two years. In May 2019, the Council of State ruled that the Dutch nitrogen policy, laid down in the Nitrogen Approach Program (PAS), is not sound. As a result, many large construction projects came to a standstill.

By building emission-free, these projects, including the construction of new roads and homes, can continue. “Emission-free construction saves a lot of headaches about nitrogen,” says Van Weyenberg. “And it’s great for people who work or live on and around construction sites. Cleaner air and less noise.”

Up to half subsidy

Almost all nitrogen emissions from construction come from the use of vehicles and machines on the construction site. The government wants construction to emit 60 percent less nitrogen and 0.4 megatons less CO2 by 2030, as laid down in the Nitrogen Approach and the Climate Agreement. This subsidy scheme can contribute to this, according to the ministry.

Large builders, such as BAM or Heijmans, can recover up to a maximum of 40 percent of the purchase or conversion costs. SMEs receive extra compensation: they can receive up to half of the subsidy. However, there is a maximum amount per application.

Farmers’ buyout

The money comes from a broader package of nitrogen measures, such as buying out farmers. The government is also taking numerous measures to help entrepreneurs switch to cleaner alternatives, including subsidies for electric cars and ships. It previously lowered the speed limit on highways.

Industry association Bouwend Nederland is pleased that the cabinet is taking out its wallet to make construction greener, says chairman and former minister Maxime Verhagen. “With this impulse, the sector can continue to develop and this important transition becomes more realistic and more affordable for entrepreneurs.”

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