Friday 14 August 2020

Farmers face fines as police act to keep tractors off Brabant motorways


Farmers who drive their tractors on Brabant’s motorways face fines of at least €380 after police announced a crackdown in the wake of recent protests.

Agricultural vehicles have brought traffic to a standstill several times in the last week as farmers stepped up their opposition to the cabinet’s plans to cut nitrogen oxide emissions.

A judgment by the Council of State last May has forced ministers to take measures such as cutting motorway speed limits in the daytime in order to comply with European environmental protection laws.

Police in Brabant said they would no longer tolerate tractors on the motorway and farmers who defied the order would be fined and ordered to leave at the next exit. The fines can be increased if the farmers ignore directions from the police.

Demonstrators last week blockaded Eindhoven airport and a distribution depot for the Jumbo supermarket chain in Veghel. A 17-year-old protester was charged with attempted manslaughter after driving his tractor at a group of military police during a demonstration on Sunday.

Other rural provinces including Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland have also taken action to ban agricultural vehicles from demonstrations on safety grounds. On Wednesday morning dozens of people were arrested as protesters defied the ban to blockade a waste processing plant in Wijster, Drenthe.

Last Thursday night dozens of farmers in tractors staged an unscheduled demonstration outside the parliament complex in The Hague last week, as MPs voted on new regulations to reduce protein in cattle feed.

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