Dutch court chooses economic gain over animal welfare in upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix

Part of Circuit Zandvoort surrounded by grass
Circuit Zandvoort, photo: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

A Dutch court on Thursday denied claims of environmental organizations that the permits given to expand the Zandvoort circuit for the Formula 1 Grand Prix were threatening endangered species like natterjack toads and sand lizards.

The Zandvoort circuit is situated between the Dutch coast and a large nature reserve some 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Amsterdam.

The circuit had to be expanded to make the race possible. New access roads were built through the dunes, and extra stands were constructed for spectators.

The environmental advocates said builders had destroyed precious dune reserves where natterjack toads and sand lizards live and breed. They demanded that the permits for the track’s expansion would be reversed.

But the court said all permits given by the province of North-Holland were in order, because the disturbance for the animals was only temporary and did not weigh up against the expected social and economic impact of the Grand Prix.

Giving less importance to the well-being of endangered species for such a big event that brings many tourists to the country was a validated decision, the court said.

“This is a sporting event with one of the largest audiences worldwide … which will likely provide an economic impulse for Zandvoort and the circuit”, the court said.

The Formula 1 Grand Prix will start on September 5 in the Netherlands. The environmental organizations said they would appeal the decision, but the case is unlikely to be heard before the first weekend of September.

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