Almost 500 farmers have registered for a voluntary buy-out scheme, including 300 who are considered “peak polluters”, nature minister Christianne van der Wal has told parliament.
NOS reports that she told MPs that the figures showed that “there is at least interest, but that doesn’t yet say anything about the success of the approach.”
Following a series of Supreme Court verdicts in cases brought by environmentalists, the Netherlands must reduce nitrogen compound emissions that are threatening biodiversity in protected areas.
A report last year by veteran politician Johan Remkes recommended buying out 500 to 600 animal farmers, mostly based near these nature reserves, whose ammonia emissions made them “peak” polluters.
The government has allocated €975 million to a voluntary buy-out scheme, which launched in July. Farmers could check whether they qualified by filling their details in a website; the government has said it holds no current list, although the RIVM is understood to have historic figures from businesses that suggest around 3,000 firms – also industrial – are peak polluters.
Van der Wal told MPs that around 39,000 businesses have calculated whether they would qualify for a complete buy-out or subsidies to reduce their pollution, and that almost 500 have registered their interest in a complete buy-out.
The scheme is based on a government-assigned value for a business and is “a long process”, said Van der Wal.
The caretaker government aimed to cut total nitrogen-based emissions by 50% by 2030, although a study revealed last week suggests that natural areas may be even more vulnerable than previously thought.
The Netherlands has more than 100 million farmed animals, including 3.8 million cows, most of them raised for export.
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