Netherlands moves to tax fireworks

Working party to investigate options after Pronk demands action to counter air pollution peaks

The Dutch government is investigating creating a tax on fireworks to reduce air pollution, marking what is believed to be the first such move by an EU country. Environment minister Jan Pronk said last week that taxes had become necessary to combat rising levels of pollution that were damaging human health and contaminating the environment.

Elderly people and those with respiratory problems are particularly vulnerable to air pollution peaks caused by the mass use of fireworks during national celebrations, the ministry says. Particles, sulphur dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide are all potential problems. The ministry is also concerned that firework debris can contaminate soil and surface waters, among other things with heavy metals.

Public celebrations to mark the New Year are the target of the proposed tax, because thousands of tonnes of fireworks are let off across the country.

In a first step towards establishing a tax, a working group has been set up to research the issue. It will look at possible tax rates for fireworks and how revenues should be used, presenting its findings to the Dutch parliament in mid-2001.

Follow Up:
Dutch environment ministry, tel: +31 70 339 5050.

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