After farmer protest bedlam, MPs demand license plates for tractors

Tractors block traffic in Den Haag just before evening rush hour
Tractors in Den Haag caused a traffic jam on the S101 already at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 1, 2019Photo: NL Times

After chaos caused by farmers driving their tractors on highways during protests last year, a majority in the lower house of Dutch parliament pledged their support to a legislative proposal that will oblige farmers to put license plates on their tractors. The Netherlands is one of the last countries in Europe to regulate this, RTL Nieuws reports.

It was about time, according to the D66. "If you want to be on the road with a fast e-bike or scooter, you need a license plate. But not with a tractor. That's crazy," D66 parliamentarian Matthijs Sienot said, according to the broadcaster. "A license plate is also needed if you want to be able to fine farmers who commit violations."

The bill was also supported by VVD, SP, GroenLinks and PvdA - enough for a majority in the Tweede Kamer. 

"I am convinced by the excesses we saw during the farmers' protests," PvdA parliamentarian William Moorlag explained his party's support. "That farmers drove through barriers and almost hit cyclists and did not get a ticket because it was difficult to determine with which vehicle the violation was committed. That is a thing of the past with a license plate."

In December, a representative of the Public Prosecution Service also said that the fact the that tractors had no license plates made it difficult to enforce rules on the protest days

Coalition party CDA has doubts about the law. "We are afraid that this law will cost the farmers, and we do not want that," parliamentarian Maurits van Martels said. "Last time we also played a pioneering role in the resistance against the law. The law forces farmers to get a roadworthy inspection for their tractor and that forces the farmer to incur additional costs at a time where costs are already important to them."

The law not take effect until January 2025, giving farmers some five years to get their vehicles roadworthy.