Water boards to advocate linking water quality targets to nitrogen plan
The Union of Water Boards will suggest the Cabinet link the nitrogen problems to water quality targets on Monday. Other provinces also advocate tackling all problems in one fell swoop: water quality, drought, climate change and nitrogen emissions.
According to the Union, it would be a "missed opportunity" not to immediately focus on all these areas. Other interlocutors confirm this. "Otherwise we will be sitting at the table with Remkes again in a year's time." In addition to the provinces and the Union of Water Boards, the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and the Interprovincial Consultation (IPO) will be present on Monday.
The IPO says that the previously published nitrogen plan remains the starting point for tackling the nitrogen crisis. It also indicates that clearer guidelines are needed for reducing nitrogen emissions. They are now available with the first plans of nitrogen minister Christianne van der Wal.
"Furthermore, the minister has repeated several times that her plans are not set in stone," said an IPO spokesperson. "So we look at reduction per area and not at the square kilometer."
Some provinces are sending their deputies in the field of agriculture to consultations with the Cabinet and Remkes on Monday, including Noord-Brabant and Gelderland, the provinces with the most farms. "It is possible that some provinces would prefer to stick to 2035, rather than a reduction of nitrogen emissions by 2030. They will then speak up for those views themselves," said the IPO spokesperson.
One province that wants to stick to hitting the target by 2035 is Overijssel, said Deputy Gert Harm ten Bolscher. "We want to comply with the law as it currently stands. We have been working on nature restoration for at least 10 years. Nice steps have been made in this respect, but we really need that extra time to get everyone on board and to draw up a future-proof plan."
Overijssel has a large agricultural area. "In addition to nature goals, a sustainable future for this agricultural sector and the quality of life in our countryside are also very important." The deputy hears many uncertainties among the farmers he speaks with. "We sit down with everyone and want them all to support the policy."
The province of Gelderland has responded that it does not agree with the reduction percentages per area that Van der Wal has mentioned, but there is room for adjustment. A spokesperson for Gelderland emphasized that the province wants to achieve the intended nitrogen reduction of 7.5 kilotons. All sectors must contribute to this, not just agriculture, she said.
Overijssel also believes that society as a whole should contribute to solving the nitrogen problem. The province of Noord-Brabant says it cannot explain the position of the commissioner prior to Monday's meeting.
Reporting by ANP