There will be no generic exception for water taxis to sail above the nightly speed limit of 20 km/h around the Wadden Islands. This is what Minister Mark Harbers of Infrastructure and Water Management writes in a letter to the House of Representatives, following a motion by Caroline van der Plas (BBB).
The operator of the water taxi between Ameland and Holwerd, Veltman Marine Services, announced at the beginning of December that the water taxi from 2022 no longer sails between sunset and sunrise. One of the reasons was the speed limit of 20 kilometers per hour that applies at night. Anyone wishing to deviate from this speed limit must obtain a permit under the Nature Conservation Act and a designation decision under the Inland Waterways Police Regulations. There are, however, some specific exceptional cases, such as urgent patient transport and rescue, salvage and search operations.
Accessibility *)Harbers recognizes that good accessibility of the Wadden Islands is important. According to him, the water taxis are therefore a good addition to the regular ferry services. But an application to achieve a more flexible policy in terms of sailing speed has not been accepted by the minister. ‘The applicable laws and regulations do not allow for a generic exemption for water taxi companies. The starting point is an assessment per individual case.’
With the maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour, the crossing from Nes to Holwerd can be made in an acceptable time frame of less than half an hour, according to Harbers.
Appropriate assessment There has been contact between Rijkswaterstaat and Veltman Marine Service as a result of the nightly shutdown. There has also been contact with the municipality of Ameland, the province of Fryslân and the Security Region of Fryslân. According to Harbers, it was concluded during these consultations that an entrepreneur who wants to exceed the speed limit at night must have an appropriate assessment carried out on the basis of the Nature Conservation Act. ‘These exceptional cases are clear in themselves, but it has been agreed to give them even more hands and feet in implementation practice. Those outcome is discussed with water taxi entrepreneurs on the Wadden Sea.
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