Traffic expected as farmers protest against Dutch nitrogen policy
After a six months long break, farmers in the Netherlands are again protesting against the government's plans to reduce nitrogen emissions in the country. Farmers will be protesting on the Malieveld in The Hague and at four locations around Zwolle, Assen, Arnhem and Den Bosch. This could cause traffic problems, travelers' association ANWB warned.
The first such farmers' protest in October 2019 brought Dutch roads to a near deadlock. So far, Wednesday's protest does not seem to be leading to similar traffic problems. At 8:24 a.m., the ANWB reported nine traffic jams covering 34 kilometers of Dutch roads.
The Dutch government needs to reduce nitrogen emissions in order to create room for new construction after the Council of State declared the cabinet's Nitrogen Approach Program invalid in 2019. This ruling basically means that nitrogen emissions need to be decreased before new nitrogen emissions can be released with new construction. And with the Netherlands' housing shortage, new construction has top priority.
As agriculture emits a lot of nitrogen, the sector is heavily affected by plans to reduce these emissions. Wednesday's protest was sparked by several reports about a possible approach to the nitrogen issue that were published over the past weeks.
One such report from the Netherlands' environmental assessment agency PBL stated that stricter nitrogen and climate rules will make farming nearly impossible in some places. In the provinces of Gelderland, Noord-Brabant and Overijssel, even sustainable forms of agriculture would emit too much nitrogen to comply with climate rules, the PBL said.
Farmers feel threatened in their survival and the persistent uncertainty about the nitrogen policy is forcing them to take action, farmers' protest groups Argactie and Farmers Defense Force (FDF) said. "Precisely because our future will be determined in the coalition agreement now and in the coming weeks, we must now send a strong signal to The Hague that we can no longer tolerate this!" Argactie said, according to NOS.
FDF and Argactie are protesting against forced buy-out of farms, as well as housing construction and solar panels on farmland.