Tuesday 05 July 2022

Nitrogen plans will have a ‘major impact on many’, minister says

Farmers protesting about impending cuts. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Nature minister Christianne van der Wal has warned that the government will have a ‘very tough message’ about the need to slash nitrogen-based pollution when more details about the plans are published on Friday.

‘It is clear that there are very few options in some areas,’ Van der Wal told reporters on Tuesday.

Last week the NRC reported that amount of nitrogen compound pollution in some parts of the Netherlands will have to be cut by 70% to 80% to comply with a Dutch court ruling.

Sources in The Hague told the paper that the government’s strategy to take a regional approach to the issue will lead to major problems in parts of Gelderland and Noord-Brabant, where livestock farming is concentrated and a number of vulnerable habitats are being seriously damaged.

To meet the new rules, the amount of livestock farming will have to be reduced drastically, and that means some farmers will have to be bought out and shut down their operations, the paper said.

What is all the fuss about nitrogen in the Netherlands?

De Wal said that the government is faced with ‘no other choice’ other than to act rigorously and that the plans will ‘have a major impact on a lot of people.’

In May 2019, the Council of State ruled the government’s strategy for reducing excess nitrogen was in breach of EU directives on protecting vulnerable habitats and that the way the release of nitrogen was being calculated when assessing construction project licences was questionable.

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