The police, transport ministry officials and safety board chiefs have called on radical farmers to stop dumping manure, blazing hay bales and waste containing asbestos on Dutch roads, as their protests against the government’s plans to curb nitrogen emissions continues.
Wednesday morning’s protests led to road closures and long delays for motorists, as well as ‘creating life threatening situations for road users’, the agencies said in a joint statement.
At least one accident took place because of the dumping when a motorist drove into a pile of hay which had been placed on the A32 near Meppel. He escaped uninjured but the car was a write-off.
So far, there have been no arrests.
Not all the roads were reopened by early afternoon because the clean up operation is taking longer in some places. In some spots, the road surface also needs repairs, the government’s roads department said.
Op de #A1 ter hoogte van Voorst wordt ook hard gewerkt. In beide rijrichtingen kan het verkeer daar via de vluchtstrook versperringen op het wegdek passeren. In de richting van Hengelo wordt de weg nu schoongemaakt. Actuele verkeersinformatie: https://t.co/AkieH72Pmg pic.twitter.com/WoKXqGWSPI
— Rijkswaterstaat Verkeersinformatie (@RWSverkeersinfo) July 27, 2022
The A1, A12, A28, A30, A35 and A50 were all closed or partially closed for a time and a number remain completely blocked. The jams were particularly bad on the A1 between Amersfoort and Hengelo and traffic was brought to a standstill around Apeldoorn and on the A12.
MP Caroline van der Plas, leader of the farmers’ party BBB, said in a reaction to the protests that she understood that emotions are running high but condemned the fires and manure dumps.
Protests on the edge of motorways is fine but ‘dumping manure on the road and setting fires in the verges is risking the safety of others, and I call for a halt,’ she told the AD.
The agriculture ministry also condemned the protests. ‘Protest is fine, but within the law,’ a spokesman said. ‘And that is not what this is.
The farmers are protesting about government plans to tackle nitrogen based pollution, which mean some will have to close down their businesses.
Johan Remkes, who has been brought in to mediate between the government and farmers’ organisations, has now sent out official invitations to talks to a wide range of groups involved in the conflict.
However, the biggest farming organisation, LTO Nederland, has said it will not take part in any talks as long as the government remains committed to cutting nitrogen emissions by 50% by 2030. It says the targets should be part of the negotiations.
The Dutch farmers’ protests are also gathering support from far right groups internationally.
‘The farmers protest has become part of the big “battle for freedom” which includes anti-immigrant and anti-abortion sentiment, as well as calls to combat ‘global elites’,’ the Volkskrant said earlier this week.
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