ANPDrone photo in the Gelderse Vallei, one of the areas where nitrogen emissions must be reduced
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 14:05
The first reactions to the approval from Brussels for the plans to tackle the major emitters of nitrogen in livestock farming are cautiously positive. In The Hague, the green light from the European Commission is welcome news, says political reporter for NOS Roel Bolsius. “An important hurdle has now been taken,” he said on NPO Radio 1.
“In recent times, the political discussion has often been about years: whether the nitrogen targets should be achieved in 2030 or 2035. But in the meantime, there were no arrangements to achieve those targets at all.”
With the approved plans, the peak loaders can be bought out quickly, so that emissions can be reduced in the short term. The peak loaders are responsible for an important part of the precipitation of nitrogen in protected nature areas.
‘Volunteering is crucial’
Farmers’ action group Agractie emphasizes that the approval only concerns the purchase of so-called peak loaders, but not about innovation, relocation or switching. “Remkes has explicitly stated that farmers should be given the choice of a good voluntary scheme with all these options.” The farmers’ association says “it is crucial that farmers are given these choices and not forced into the direction of stopping”, but is “generally positive about good arrangements for farmers who do want to stop”.
Agricultural organization LTO also considers “voluntary participation” essential and says it is important “that the arrangements are developed in such a way that they really offer voluntary quitters the opportunity to complete the business in a good way”. “It’s not just about what compensation farmers receive at the front for the purchase (and demolition) of their stables and production rights, but also about the tax settlement at the back.”
Free nitrogen space
The nitrogen space that is released is initially mainly used to help farmers who are without a permit through no fault of their own: the so-called PAS detectors. Agractie calls this “positive”. The remaining nitrogen space can be used to build houses and roads.
Although an important hurdle has been taken, this does not solve the nitrogen problem. Companies must register voluntarily and the question is therefore how many companies will do so, says Bolsius. “Moreover, the provinces must largely implement this policy. Do they now have enough power to get this done or do they still see difficulties?”
These buy-out plans concern about 3000 dairy farms, pig farms, veal calf farms and poultry farms. “But industry and traffic also emit nitrogen,” says Bolsius. “They must also make a contribution and those arrangements are yet to come. So yes: an important hurdle has been taken, but we are not there yet as a country.”
Deputy of the province of Limburg, Geert Gabriëls (Nature, Environment and Heritage) hopes that the implementation of the regulations will be in order. “Our Limburg farmers will have to make choices and that is not always easy. Now this process can finally begin. Finally, after years, nitrogen reduction will take place through the voluntary schemes.”
Urgently needed, according to Gabriels. “For nature restoration, for the redesign of the rural area with good revenue models for farmers and for the long-term resumption of permits.”