Nitrogen crisis: Fewer houses to be built in the Netherlands
The nitrogen crisis in the Netherlands threatens to significantly diminish the number of new houses being built. The government wanted to build 75.000 new properties each year over the coming years, but the nitrogen crisis has thrown a spanner in the works and cut this number by almost 40 percent.
Significant slump for construction
The Ministry of Environment and Housing estimates that only 47.000 properties will be given the go-ahead this year and next. This is a lot less than the 75.000 the government wanted to build. The problem? Nitrogen. But not the nitrogen which makes up more than 78 percent of the atmosphere: nitrous oxide and ammonia, damaging emissions that are released by the construction industry, amongst others.
But bricks don't give off nitrogen, so what does nitrogen have to do with construction? It's actually got nothing to do with the houses themselves, but the building of them which requires heavy machinery and lorries that emit nitrogen, which then falls as precipitation. The Netherlands has to stick to a nitrogen emission quota and must therefore cut emissions. Something is going to have to give, whether that be farmers or the construction industry.
According to the Minister for Environment and Housing Stientje van Veldhoven, “We are doing everything we can to make sure [the forecast] doesn’t become a reality”. The Ministry predicts that the housing problems will persist for the next few years; it’s only in 2024 that they see the current goal coming into view again. The Cabinet and ruling parties have been looking into measures that can be taken to reduce nitrogen emissions and get construction back up and running for weeks.