Dutch government sets targets to cut nitrogen pollution

Farmers to protest a proposed 30% reduction in livestock numbers
calendar icon 14 June 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

The Dutch government on Friday laid out targets for reducing nitrogen pollution in some areas by up to 70% by 2030 - the latest attempt to solve a problem that has plagued the country for years, reported Reuters.

Farm and agriculture organisations said the targets were not realistic and called for a protest in The Hague on 22 June.

"This is not going to work," said Sjaak van der Tak of agricultural organization LTO in a reaction.

Details of how the targets will be met will be worked out in the coming months together with provincial governments, said Christianne van der Wal, the Minister for Nature and Nitrogen, at a news conference.

However, "some of our farmers will not be able to continue their businesses as they do now," she said.

The Netherlands is the world's second-largest agricultural exporter after the United States. Relatively large numbers of livestock and heavy use of fertilizers, as well as traffic and construction in a densely-populated country, have led to illegally high levels of nitrogen oxides in the air and water.

The targets put forward on Friday are intended to comply with rulings in 2018 by the European Court of Justice and in 2019 by the Netherlands' Council of State that Dutch policies were failing to address the problem.

In 2020 the government ordered the national speed limit to be set at 100 km/hr and in December it estimated livestock nationwide would have to be reduced by 30% to reduce nitrogen pollution.

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