ANPBBB party leader Caroline van der Plas
The BoerCurgerBeweging became the largest party in all provinces at the Provincial Council elections in March, mainly thanks to a fierce campaign against the nitrogen policy. But the party itself is now implementing the national nitrogen law in ten provinces.
The BBB also appears to be unsteady on other issues, to the dismay of its supporters. Party leader Caroline van der Plas acknowledges in Nieuwsuur that it is not always possible to implement key points.
‘Touching the buttons is more important’
After the elections in March, the BBB became co-governor in ten of the twelve provinces, making the party partly responsible for implementing the nitrogen law. The law states that nitrogen emissions must be significantly reduced by 2035. In six provinces the BBB works together with its counterpart PvdA, and in three provinces also with GroenLinks.
According to Van der Plas, the provincial departments can now achieve more than if they had chosen a role in the opposition. “In the provincial government you can be at the controls and be more cautious in policy. We have prevented involuntary expropriation of farmers from happening in all coalition agreements.”
But there is criticism from the supporters. Angelique Knufing voted for BBB because of the nitrogen position, and is disappointed that the party is not fighting the nitrogen law in the provinces.
“Van der Plas must do what she promised. If you govern with GroenLinks, the nitrogen law will not be taken off the table,” she says:
‘The BBB likes to compromise the wine’
To the Ipsos statement ‘Leave the farmers alone, measures to reduce nitrogen in agriculture are not necessary at all’, 57 percent of potential BBB voters answer ‘agree’. 12 percent disagree. If Nieuwsuur presents the statement to Van der Plas, she wants it not give an unequivocal answer . “That’s too simplistic for me.”
She says she still wants to get rid of the nitrogen law. “The people who work for us in the provinces also think so. But you are dealing with a national law that provinces do not have to deal with. And as long as that law exists, you have to implement it.”
The question is whether it will be possible to tackle the nitrogen law at a national level. VVD, NSC and GroenLinks-PvdA, the largest parties in the polls, say – in contrast to BBB – that they want to significantly reduce nitrogen emissions.
Still wind turbines on land
There are also grumblings from the BBB supporters on another theme. While the party writes in the election manifesto that it does not want any new onshore wind projects, space is left in coalition agreements for new wind turbines in five provinces where the party co-governs: Zeeland, Limburg, North Holland, South Holland and Overijssel.
The village of Hoge Hexel in Overijssel became strongly divided by the possible arrival of such a wind project. Resident Joke Verhage, representative of the Tegenwind organization, says that farmers in the region accept money to have wind turbines installed on their yards. “Other citizens are experiencing inconvenience from this,” says resident Joke Verhage. “That subsidy is a perverse incentive. The entire community is affected by it.”
According to Verhage, “noabership”, which Van der Plas often advocates, is under pressure in her community. “People no longer want to come together for maternity visits.” Several BBB politicians made promises to Verhage to stop the arrival of the wind turbines, but then there was silence.
Van der Plas says in Nieuwsuur that she is aware of these problems, but that she cannot stop the projects. “When you join a council, you have to deal with policy that has already been agreed and must be implemented. We stop all really new projects that are now getting off the ground.”
In Deventer too, residents see that community is under pressure in some neighborhoods, but only because of the arrival of migrant workers. BBB voter Tom Boersma had expected more support from the BBB on this point. “Temporary agencies and slum landlords fill homes with migrant workers who work in the meat industry and distribution centers. This leads to a lot of nuisance: waste, honking vans at 5 a.m., drug use and prostitution.”
BBB wants a maximum on the number of asylum seekers who can come to the Netherlands, but not on the number of labor migrants. The party says that the Netherlands is dependent on labor migration and wants to build houses specifically for this group. In the Ipsos poll, 62 percent of BBB supporters say that the number of migrant workers should be significantly reduced, even if this is detrimental to some Dutch companies.
Van der Plas says he wants to prevent nuisance from migrant workers by allowing them to live close to their work. “Precisely to get them out of the cities where they are now often put into homes by unregistered employment agencies.”