Farm pollution check website opens, 3,000 may qualify for cash

A protest in a field in Friesland against the government's nitrogen reduction plans. Photo: Depositphotos

The government website which farmers can use to find out if they are eligible to be bought out because of pollution went live on Monday with the officials saying an estimated 3,000 farms will qualify because they are located close to sensitive environments. 

Some 60% of the farms which emit large amounts of nitrogen are in the province of Gelderland and the area around the Veluwe national park, where the pig and poultry industries are focused, nature minister Christianne van der Wal told MPs in a briefing. 

Farmers will be able to apply for an estimated 120% of the value of their farms to close down from next month. They can also get specialist help to slash their emissions by 85%.  

Other dairy, pig and poultry farmers, not considered major polluters, will also be eligible for a payment of 100% of the value of their operation to stop or reform. An estimated 8,000 farms could fall under that ruling.  

In total, the government has allocated €1.4 billion to fund the two schemes.

Other plans to help farmers innovate, move or switch to a new type of farming have not yet been finalised. 

Farming lobby group LTO has described the government’s approach as a “good step” in the right direction, despite the uncertainties. “It is the first time farmers know where they stand,” the campaign group said. 

If not enough farmers sign up for the deal, ministers will have a rethink on how to bring down farm-related pollution and have ruled out compulsory purchase so far. The minister’s letter stresses several times that taking part in the website check is completely voluntary. 

Brussels gave the green light to the scheme at the start of this month.

Polluting industries, such as Tata Steel, which are located close to Natura 2000 areas will face different rules.

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