Wednesday 10 August 2022

Farmers take ‘buyout contract’ to Schiphol airport in latest nitrogen protest

A farmers’ protest in The Hague in October 2019. Photo: Molly Quell

More than 200 farmers are staging a protest at Schiphol airport against government plans to buy out agricultural landowners as part of a package of measures to reduce nitrogen pollution.

A convoy of tractors travelled to the airport to hand over a contract to buy out and decommission the airport, which they claim would solve the nitrogen problem ‘at a stroke’.

The symbolic gesture is a response to plans leaked last week to save the airport by buying out local farmers and other measures, including cutting speed limits on surrounding motorways to 80 km/h.

Legal advisors have told the government that the airport’s future is at risk because it is breaching rules on noise and nitrogen compound pollution and has not applied for a permit that is required to prove it is complying with local conservation laws.

Environmental groups have threatened to take the airport’s management to court if it does not secure the environmental permit.

The government wants to reduce agricultural production by buying out farmers in order to cut nitrogen pollution, but the farmers say the plans are unfair and other sectors, such as aviation, should face cuts as well.

‘Even if you round up all the farmers, nitrogen pollution will still exceed the limits,’ Ard Eshuis, one of the protesters, told RTV Oost. ‘A lot of the rules are unachievable, so something’s wrong with the standards they’re setting. We hope this will get through to the government today.’

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