Protesting Dutch farmers dump liquid manure and rubbish on the streets


Dutch farmers protested government plans to cut nitrogen emissions by dumping manure and rubbish on motorways and setting fires along roads on Wednesday – the latest measures in a summer of discontent. Police asked them to stop for safety and investigated who was responsible.

Transport authorities said several roads in the central and eastern Netherlands were blocked in whole or in part by the early morning blockades and the fire brigade rushed to clear the roads as traffic built up. Clean-up operations were expected to take hours on some streets.

At the end of the day, some roads were still not cleared, partly because some companies involved in the cleanup had received threats, said Diederik Fleuren, a spokesman for state road and waterway organization Rijkswaterstaat.

“We’re doing everything we can to clear the streets, but … some contractors are being intimidated,” Fleuren said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. He said it’s not clear when all streets will be fully cleaned.

“It’s very extreme now that people are being threatened,” he added.

Dutch media reported that a sign reading ‘Sorry for the inconvenience, Rutte IV is driving us to despair’ was left at one location, a reference to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government.

Police and security authorities appealed to farmers to stop what they described as dangerous situations.

“Protesting is a fundamental right and as long as it stays within the law, a lot is possible,” the emergency services said in a joint statement. However, they said the latest measures “pose serious risks to road safety and can lead to life-threatening situations for road users”.

The latest demonstrations came a day after a government-appointed mediator sent out invitations to farmers’ unions to discuss ways to reduce nitrogen emissions with the country’s ruling coalition.

“I see the talks as a turning point: getting out of the impasse together,” said mediator Johan Remkes. “The cabinet has assured me that there is space and that joint solutions are possible.”

But some farmers have opposed the appointment of Remkes as an independent mediator because he is a member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right party and a former deputy prime minister.

Farmers are angered by government targets to limit nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions, which they say threaten to ruin their farming way of life and put them out of business.

The government says emissions of nitrogen oxides and ammonia produced by livestock must be drastically reduced near natural areas that are part of a network of protected habitats for endangered plants and wildlife that stretches across the 27 nations of the European Union extends.

The governing coalition aims to cut pollutant emissions by 50% nationwide by 2030, calling the measure an “inevitable transition” to improve soil, air and water quality in an EU country known for its intensive agriculture. It has urged provincial authorities to draw up plans to reduce emissions and has allocated an additional €24.3 billion ($24.6 billion) to fund the changes.

Farmers argue they are being unfairly targeted, while other sectors such as aviation, construction and transport also contribute to emissions and are subject to less sweeping regulations. They also say that the government is not giving them a clear picture of their future given the proposed reforms.

Earlier this year, farmers blocked highways with tractors and blocked supermarket distribution centers.

AP Protesting Dutch farmers dump liquid manure and rubbish on the streets

Fry Electronics Team

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