Cabinet considering €17 billion plan to buy out, seize farms to reduce nitrogen emissions: Report
The caretaker Cabinet has far-reaching plans on the table to reduce nitrogen emissions in agriculture. The Ministries of Finance and Agriculture have developed plans to buy up farmers' production rights and also to buy up agricultural land. In the case of the latter option, the Cabinet would consider more forcefully expropriating land, political sources close to the Cabinet confirmed after a report in NRC.
The newspaper wrote its report based on calculations it obtained from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).
The PBL calculated a number of scenarios for the Cabinet. The plan to buy up farmers' production rights would cost about 9 billion euros. The costs would rise to an estimated 17 billion euros if the Cabinet also acquired the land. The expropriation of farmers cannot be ruled in the latter scenario in order to achieve the nitrogen emissions targets, said the PBL.
A landmark law about nitrogen and the environment passed both Houses of Parliament earlier this year. It came into effect on July 1. It lays down a number of targets for reducing nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands, but these mainly concern achieving sustainability goals in the longer term.
The goals have been set for the years 2025, 2030 and 2035.
The Cabinet believes further measures will be needed if it wants to launch large-scale projects, like the construction of millions of homes. Many housing and infrastructure projects were halted starting in 2019 over environmental rules.
So far, the government has not wanted to face political blowback that would come with an attempt to force farmers to give up their work. A final decision about the next 15 years of Dutch agriculture, and the sector’s future could be up to the new Cabinet.
Cabinet formation talks have been slow with little progress made in the six months after elections were held.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.