​The Netherlands: Nitrogen should be slashed 70% in key areas

17-06 | |
€24.3 billion has been reserved for tackling the nitrogen problem. The money is used to support farmers who are unable to continue their business in the same way. Photo: Wick Natzijl
€24.3 billion has been reserved for tackling the nitrogen problem. The money is used to support farmers who are unable to continue their business in the same way. Photo: Wick Natzijl

In key parts of the Netherlands, nitrogen emissions must be reduced by 70%, referring to 131 areas close to vulnerable nature. This means that not all farmers can continue with their operations, said the Dutch government recently.

The Nationaal Programma Landelijk Gebied (National Program for Rural Areas​) indicates per area how much nitrogen emissions must be reduced by 2030 to give nature a chance to recover. In some, it is 12%, but there are 131 areas where it is very significant. Areas are spread all over the country, within a kilometre of the protected ‘Natura 2000’ area.

The provinces are currently tasked with a plan and must indicate before 1 July 2023 how they intend to achieve the goals. In doing so, measures can be taken for the livestock industry, construction and traffic. However, the demand for this is greater from livestock operations. According to the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and Environment), these are still responsible for about 60% of nitrogen pollution caused in the Netherlands in sensitive nature areas.

Ministers Christianne van der Wal (Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy) and Henk Staghouwer (Minister of Agriculture) see 3 options for farmers in the most vulnerable areas:

  1. They can make their business more sustainable
  2. Relocate
  3. Not all farmers can continue with their business

Reduction of nitrogen

The nitrogen plan should lead to a 50% reduction in total nitrogen emissions by 2030, in other words, in 8 years. According to the plans, farmers must reduce their emissions by 40%. This means that there will have to be around 30% less livestock.

Permits for livestock farmers

In 2019, it was determined that the nitrogen policy in the Netherlands was not up to par. Permits were issued for livestock farms and large construction projects near nature reserves, in the hope that conservation measures would later rectify the adverse effects of nitrogen emissions.

It has been stated that the Dutch government has set aside €24.3 billion (US$25.5 billion) to tackle this issue and to give financial aid to farmers.

Source: NOS (Dutch)

Van Dijk
Zana Van Dijk Editor Dairy Global

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