Cabinet stands firm on 50% nitrogen emissions reduction by 2030
The government’s goal to halve nitrogen emissions between now and 2030 is not up for discussion. The Cabinet indicated this in consultations with farmers on Wednesday, nitrogen mediator Johan Remkes said after the meeting. Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed it.
Farmers’ organizations wanted the deadline for reducing nitrogen emissions to be pushed back, for example, to 2035.
The farmers also have serious objections to the critical deposition value - the established limit to the amount of nitrogen that a specified nature reserve can handle. During the consultations, the Minister agreed to examine with the sector whether “a replacement system can be created that is legally tenable.”
The government is also looking at getting the licensing for PAS-reporters going. These are farmers who, under the old nitrogen policy, did not need a nature permit for, for example, a new barn. The Council State put an end to this method in 2019, resulting in these farmers working illegally in practice. According to Remekes, the government will examine “how any damage can be compensated if permits are not granted.”
The farmers only agreed to come to the meeting with the Cabinet after their demands were put on the agenda. That happened, but Remkes said afterward that he was “greatly surprised” about this and that he found it very annoying. He said the conversation started “a bit difficult, but it cleared up very quickly.”
Remkes said that he intends to “start saying sensible things” in the second half of September. Not only about nitrogen but also about “the subject of perspective, precisely because those two things are in fact inextricably linked.”
According to Remkes, all participants agreed that breaking the law and intimidation are not allowed. Rutte raised the issue, according to the mediator. The participants showed “understanding for the emotions in the agricultural circles,” said Remkes.
Farmers' organizations did not apologize for farmers’ illegal protests this past summer, like dumping asbestos on the highways, foreman Bart Kemp of farmers’ organization Agractie said to ANP after the meeting. The Cabinet also did not ask Agractie to apologize, Kemp said
“We always said that action must take place within the boundaries of the democratic constitutional state,” Kemp said. Mark van der Oever, leader of Farmers Defnes Force (FDF), also said that his organization is “never liable” for “individual actions. FDF always adhered to “all the rules, all demonstrations were reported, and codes of conduct have always been distributed. Of course, you can’t do much more as a board.”
Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal, who had protesting farmers show up at her house, said she is “glad” that all participants in the conversation disapprove of law-breaking and intimidation. She is also confident that farmers’ organizations will adhere to this. According to the Minister, the talks made a start to “not standing against each other in a fighting position, but with a relaxed attitude.”
Reporting by ANP