The European Commission has now given the green light to the cabinet’s plans to buy out highly polluting farms in environmentally-sensitive locations.
The aim of the buyout scheme is to slash nitrogen emissions so that nature can recover, in line with EU targets. EU approval was needed to ensure the programme does not count as illegal state support.
The one-off payment will cover some 3,000 livestock farmers close to Natura 2000 areas, nature minister Christianne van der Wal said in a briefing to MPs on Friday.
Other farms, which are not considered to be peak polluters, will also be able to apply for a grant to close down their businesses. The schemes will come into effect on July 1.
The government has not published a list of farms which it would like to see close. Instead officials are working on an online tool which will enable farmers to find out if they meet the pollution threshold and qualify for the payment. That too will come online on July 1.
The size of the payouts farmers will be entitled to has not yet been published, but earlier it was suggested farmers could be paid 120% of the value of their businesses to stop. Other farms, not considered to be peak polluters, may also be eligible for a buy-out fee of up to 100%.
Officials are also working on other measures to help farmers cut nitrogen emissions including moving to another location.
Talks will continue with farming organisations and provincial councils on the implementation of the scheme, the minister said. “Everything is focused on making a proper start to the campaign as quickly as possible.”
The buyout programme will be the responsibility of the provinces but may be complicated by the fact that pro-farmers party BBB became the biggest in all 12 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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