Farmers take part in tractor protest about pollution plans

Farmers gather before heading out their protests. Photo: Rob Engelaar ANP
Farmers gather before heading out their protests. Photo: Rob Engelaar ANP

Farmers gathered at several locations in the Netherlands on Wednesday afternoon to protest at government plans to tackle nitrogen compound pollution which, they say, threaten to drive them off their land.

Several hundred farmers and their supporters gathered on the Maliveld near the parliamentary complex in The Hague and other demonstrations are taking place in Zwolle, Assen, Arnhem and Den Bosch.

Protests by farmers in December 2019 caused major disruption on the roads, but this time round, the organisers said they would avoid setting up blockades.

‘We are not going to smash windows or set things on fire,’ campaign leader farmer Rutger van Lier told broadcaster NOS. ‘We are not vandals, we are farmers. We are doing this for our families and our businesses.’

Earlier this week, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said stricter measures needed to control nitrogen-based pollution will have a ‘huge impact on large parts of the Dutch agricultural sector’.

In particular, Gelderland, Brabant and Overijssel, where livestock farming is concentrated, would be ‘transformed’ the agency said.

It emerged last week that only half of pig farmers who had initially opted for a government buy out scheme had left the industry.

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