Dutch MPs annoyed by idea of revoking farming permits to slash nitrogen emissions

THE HAGUE - An advisory brief from a government attorney saying it is possible to revoke farmers' permits to tackle the nitrogen crisis was met with indignant reactions from members of the lower house of Dutch parliament. Some parliamentarians did understand the reasoning behind the advice, which was released on Tuesday.

In order to tackle the nitrogen crisis, it is "inevitable to also immediately focus on non-voluntary termination" of permits for farms that are close to a protected nature reserve. The attorney wrote that in the brief to the Ministry of Agriculture, the department confirmed after reports by AD. 

"Come on people. That's not how we treat each other," CDA MP Derk Boswijk said on Twitter. "Nitrogen emissions must come down, agreed. But make use of autonomous shrinkage that already exists, accelerate it with attractive schemes."

According to GroenLinks MP Laura Bromet, "this panicky advice" comes after "two and a half years of doing nothing". The Council of State ruled in May 2019 already that the old nitrogen approach does too little to protect nature. According to her, something must be done quickly "to save nature. We cannot wait a day longer for a new Cabinet."

VVD MP Thom van Champen called it a "little competition of 'who has the biggest toolbox'." That "does absolutely nothing to bring nitrogen solutions any closer," according to Van Champen. "That solution should not come unilaterally from the State. Everyone is needed: farmers, nature organizations and industry, and certainly not agitators."

"Do farmers still have rights!?" asked SGP member Roelof Bisschop. "Not if it is up to the State attorney, apparently. If we wanted to repay evil for evil, he would be fired immediately."

D66 parliamentarian Tjeerd de Groot thinks "that there is increasing support for the idea that [we] really must intervene. If necessary, this is also an option," he said about the possible withdrawal of permits. "It was also mentioned in previous reports." According to De Groot, it is clear that many more steps are needed to prevent nature from deteriorating further. Also to restart permits for construction projects, for example. "You have to do what is necessary. If it is necessary, you also have to take unpopular measures."


As far as the D66 MP is concerned, this should first be on a voluntary basis. "But if that is not an option, you will also have to be able to intervene differently as a government. In the interest of nature and society as a whole." 

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