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Domestic Administration, 19 November 2015: 'Jungle of legislation looms over environmental zones'

Environmental zones in several cities threaten to create a jungle of legislation, of which motorists will ultimately bear the brunt. So warns Vincent Böhre of the Privacy First foundation. 'In addition, we would not be surprised if many lawsuits will soon be filed by insufficiently informed motorists.'

Privacy concerns

Privacy First previously raised privacy concerns about license plate registration in Rotterdam's environmental zone. 'We are in favour of protecting the environment, but history shows that license plate registrations, in parking, for example, often end up being used for other purposes. Those purposes may include the tax authorities, the police and intelligence services. For these organisations, license plates are of great value.' Böhre believes license plates should only be registered when strictly necessary. 'When this data leaks, criminals can also do a lot with it. Based on license plate registration, you can find out who is where at what time, with all the consequences, such as burglaries.'

Jungle of legislation

Governments should additionally work together to avoid different regulations per environmental zone, Böhre believes. 'After Utrecht and Rotterdam, there will be more municipalities with an environmental zone. That confuses motorists. With multiple environmental zones, you create a patchwork of regulations across the country. This creates a jungle of regulations for drivers, who are surprised with different conditions in every city. It is up to the various governments to manage this together.'


When a municipality wants to set up an environmental zone, it must adequately inform their residents, Böhre argues. Utrecht already has an environmental zone, which is signposted. To the AD Rotterdam municipality additionally informed that there will be a pictogram of a camera under the environmental zone signs. But Böhre thinks this measure is too summary. 'Nice and all, such a pictogram. But motorists still have no idea how long their license plates will be stored and whether they could end up with third parties. It is difficult for Rijkswaterstaat to share this information along the motorway. I fear that governments are shifting the information onto each other and, in the end, the motorist is the victim of this.'

Many lawsuits expected

Municipalities should ideally inform all residents in the municipality and surrounding areas by letter about license plate registration and the rules that apply within the environmental zone, Böhre believes. A notice on the municipal website and in the media is not enough, he says. 'Who reads the municipal website or the local newspaper these days? Surely a minimum requirement for the environmental zone is that residents with cars that do not meet the conditions are informed in time by letter. If they are not properly informed, drivers will be unnecessarily burdened with fines and also restricted in their freedom of movement because they have to bypass a route. If proper information is not provided by municipalities, we will not be surprised if there are many lawsuits.'"

Source:, 19 November 2015.