Thursday 08 December 2022

Nitrogen pollution will lead to farms being bought out: NRC

A tractor at an earlier protest in The Hague. Photo: Molly Quell

The 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, the NRC reported on Friday.

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.

The issue is extremely politically sensitive and the threat of compulsory purchase orders has led to major protests by farmers in the past three years.

In May 2019, the Council of State ruled the government’s strategy for reducing excess nitrogen was in breach of EU law and that the way the release of nitrogen was being calculated was questionable.

The ruling by the Netherlands’ highest administrative court prompted a flurry of measures. Thousands of building projects were put on hold, threatening housing targets, the speed limit on all roads was reduced to 100 kph during the day and plans were drawn up to slash the size of the intensive farming sector.

Ministers are due to discuss the new regional approach and its impact at a cabinet meeting next week.

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