Brussels gives green light to Dutch farm buyout plan


The European Commission has approved the Dutch cabinet’s plans to tackle excessive nitrogen pollution from factory farms, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

The decision opens the door to the government’s controversial plan to buy out farmers who opt to quit, the broadcaster said. The green light is likely to be confirmed by Brussels later on Tuesday.

The commission approval is key to the success of the plans, which envisage thousands of farms close to environmentally sensitive areas closing down and does not rule out forced sales.

In total, some 3,000 highly polluting farms located close to Natura 2000 areas could be shut down. The government plans to pay them 120% of the value of their businesses to stop. Other farms may also be eligible a buy-out fee of up to 100%.

The commission’s approval is key to ensuring the payments do not count as illegal state support for industry. As yet, it is unclear if the commission has slapped any new conditions on the payments.

The 12 Dutch provinces will be responsible for putting the plan into action. This may be complicated by the fact that pro-farmers party BBB became the biggest in all provinces at the March 15 vote.

The party opposes compulsory buyouts and wants the deadline to cut emissions moved from 2030 to 2035.

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