It’s been clear for years that a tough decision must be made about nitrogen. In 2019, the State Council decided that the Netherlands’ nitrogen policy was not good. Much was lived on credit, and nature was not adequately protected.
Permits were issued for livestock farms and major construction projects near protected areas in the hope that later conservation measures would correct the harmful effects of nitrogen emissions.
This should be stopped immediately, the State Council said, and this ruling had serious consequences. All kinds of construction projects stopped and an uncertain time began for many farmers.
They were told that livestock needed to be scaled back and that farms close to more vulnerable natural areas might have to stop. This led to large demonstrations of farmers who went to The Hague with their tractors.
Half less nitrogen by 2030
The nitrogen crisis has now lasted three years and Dutch nature is now worse than ever. Van der Waal says the time for reprieve and “goat lanes” is already over. Nature can’t wait.
It was agreed in the coalition agreement that by 2030, that is, in eight years, 50 per cent less nitrogen should be emitted in the Netherlands. “And with the provinces, we will look at how we implement this for each region,” van der Waal says.
“We are dealing with a clear and simple legal ruling: we must first export less nitrogen, first we must restore nature and only then can we grant permits again. The only way to open this country is this approach. I have no choice.”
RIVM calculates that 41 percent of nitrogen precipitation in vulnerable landscapes comes from farms. This is why Van der Waal is not the only one holding a press conference this afternoon. Next to her is the Minister of Agriculture Stagoire. Provides a plan that must present the farmers’ view.
Stagouwer, for example, will say that farmers in areas adjacent to vulnerable natural areas not all have to stop, but that they can also achieve their intended nitrogen limit through innovative solutions in the stables or other methods.
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