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Dutch activists in court challenge to GP circuit

A Dutch court heard a challenge by an environmental group Thursday against official permits for the Zandvoort track to host the Dutch Formula One Grand Prix.

Activists from Duinbehoud (Dune Conservation) say the case could force the cancellation of the GP, due to be held in September for the first time since 1985.

Their case at the court in the city of Haarlem says emissions levels at the circuit are too high for a surrounding protected area and would harm local wildlife.

“The court could decide that the permits granted are not valid and revoke them, which would mean the Grand Prix could not take place,” Duinbehoud chief Marc Janssen told AFP.

“But there are lots of alternative scenarios,” he added, including that judges could instead to decide to order the circuit to halt activities after the Grand Prix, which would also be a “victory”.

A lower court rejected a similar bid in 2019 to halt work on building stands for the circuit, in order to protect natterjack toads and sand lizards in the area.

This time, activists are focusing their case on nitrogen emissions that they say are too high, and above levels predicted by the track’s developers.

The court will also consider the impact on protected areas.

A verdict is expected in August.

“I hope the court will take more time to analyse the case,” Janssen said.

The Dutch GP was cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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