MP's to debate nitrogen plans after massive farmers' protest
After many thousands of farmers gathered in Stroe to protest against the Cabinet's proposed nitrogen policy on Wednesday, the Tweede Kamer will debate the presented plans on Thursday. Opinions in the lower house of the Dutch parliament differ widely on the proposals, which also exposed some disagreements in the coalition.
The VVD and CDA, in particular, will try to adjust government policy, all the more so because their supporters are against the government's plans. ChristenUnie is also concerned about the gap between political The Hague and the countryside. That gap became visible during the farmers' protest on Wednesday. The rally is a clear signal to the Cabinet and, according to the action group Farmers Defense Force, is only "the kick-off of a long series of demonstrations."
Many political parties are particularly unhappy with how the Cabinet presented its “area-oriented approach” two weeks ago. On a map of the Netherlands, they showed in great detail with color codes in which areas the nitrogen needs to be reduced by what percentage.
That provoked resistance from farmers and mostly- right-wing politicians, although the Cabinet always stressed that the map is emphatically “indicative.” The provinces, which the Cabinet gave a year to present their plans, will get enough space. As long as the general goals are achieved: halving nitrogen emissions by 2030 and getting almost three-quarters of protected areas at the level that is safe for nature (below the critical deposition value). All coalition parties support those goals, which they also included in the coalition agreement.
In response to criticism from the coalition parties, nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal will leave a lot of decisions up to the provinces: they must determine how the plans will be implemented. It remains to be seen exactly how the policy will work out for each area. But critical parties also want to focus less on buying out farmers and more on innovations and sustainability. In addition, according to them, the government paid insufficient attention to other sectors. Left-wing parties object that the emission of ammonia (a nitrogen compound) is harmful to nature and that the court also ordered the Netherlands to reduce the precipitation of nitrogen in vulnerable nature.
Over 40,000 farmers gathered in Stroe on Wednesday, many on their tractors, causing traffic chaos around the Gelderland town. The police fined hundreds of farmers for taking their tractors on the highway, among other things. After the protest, they also arrested fourteen people who tried to block the Ketelbrug on the A6 near the Noordoosterpolder with a ship. Officers also stopped farmers from doing so with a tractor.
Farmers blocked highways in several places in the Netherlands after the protest. That happened further down the A6 near Emmeloord in the Noordoostpolder. They also shut down traffic at Lelystad. The police cleared the blockades after a while.
According to national police commander Willem Woelders, the police intervened in the event of excesses. “That all road users get home safely is and was a priority tonight.”
Reporting by ANP