115 schools too close to busy roads

16/10/2007 15:00

According to calculations made by Statistics Netherlands, 43 out of a total of more than 9 thousand primary schools are located within 100 metres from motorways, 72 are within 50 metres from provincial roads.

100 metres zone

Much debate is going on about whether new school buildings should be allowed to be built in the vicinity of motorways and provincial roads, as too high levels of fine-particle pollution caused by traffic are harmful to pupils and teachers. The Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) intends to disallow the construction of new schools within a distance of 100 metres from motorways and 50 metres from provincial roads.

Currently, 43 schools are located within 100 metres from busy roads. Dutch Lower House members suggested a more radical 300 metres zone; 275 school buildings do not comply with the 300 metres requirement.

Average distance (metres) of schools from motorways by province

Average distance (metres) of schools from motorways by province

Average distance from motorways more than 3 km

The average distance from the school’s entrance to the middle of the nearest major road is 3.2 km. With an average of 2.3 km, the shortest distance to the nearest major road is recorded in the province of Utrecht. The longest average distance was recorded in the province of Friesland (6.4 km).

For provincial roads, a minimum distance of 50 metres should be maintained. Currently, 72 school buildings are less than 50 metres away from provincial roads. The average distance to the nearest provincial road is 1.8 km, ranging from 1 km in the province of Groningen tot 2.3 km in the province of North Brabant.

Average distance (metres) of schools from provincial roads by province

Average distance (metres) of schools from provincial roads by province

All schools in The Hague beyond the danger zone

Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the only major cities in the Netherlands to have schools in the danger zone. In Amsterdam and Rotterdam four and three schools respectively are situated within 100 metres from the motorway and another 27 and 11 primary schools in these two cities are within 300 metres from a motorway. The Hague has no schools within the 300 metres zone.

Gelderland has most schools in the vicinity of provincial roads

The province of North Holland has the largest number of schools (14) situated alongside motorways, as against none in the province of Flevoland. Gelderland has the largest number of schools (19) situated within 50 metres from provincial roads. In the province of Zeeland, this problem is non-existent.

Bert Bunschoten and Niek van Leeuwen