AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Hundreds of Dutch farmers began gathering in The Hague on Saturday carrying flags and banners to protest against government plans to limit nitrogen emissions, a policy they say will spell the end of many farms.
In a separate protest ahead of the country’s March 15 regional elections, environmentalists were expected to block a major road in the city later in the day to protest tax rules they say encourage the use of fossil fuels. We do.
The farmer says the government’s plan to limit nitrogen pollution will lead to the closure of many livestock farms and reduce fertilizer use. Similar protests were held by farmers in Belgium this month against a regional government plan to limit nitrogen emissions.
Relatively large numbers of livestock and the heavy use of fertilizers, as well as traffic and construction, have raised levels of nitrogen oxides in the air and water in both the Netherlands and Belgium far above what is allowed by EU regulations.
Farm groups say the problem has been exaggerated and the proposed solutions unnecessarily harsh.
Next week’s regional elections are important because they will determine the composition of the Dutch Senate, and because regional governments are responsible for turning national government goals – such as the nitrogen cap – into concrete plans.
On Saturday morning, the mayor of The Hague issued an emergency order, giving police additional powers to enforce public order and ensure security during the planned protests.
Police said in a statement that they started stopping farmers trying to enter the city on tractors and sent them back. The city-sanctioned Kisan Raksha Bal group, which is leading the farmers’ protest, has encouraged people to come by bus.
Environmentalists led by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion say they plan to block traffic on a route near parliament in an unauthorized demonstration that could lead to arrests.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Helen Popper)