Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Dutch farmers protested against the government’s plan to cut nitrate emissions, with more than 10,000 protesters gathering in The Hague on Saturday.
The Netherlands is to hold provincial elections on 15 March, which will select upper house members indirectly and can have an effect on plans to cut nitrate emissions, according to DW reporting.
Dutch police stopped most tractors headed for the protest, noting that The Hague allowed only two symbolic tractors at the protest for security reasons.
The Farmers Defence Force organized the protest, warning that the planned environmental move will force many farms to close and affect food production in the country.
The group stressed that the nitrogen problem has been exaggerated and warned that the government’s proposed solution is ineffective and unfair.
Protesters carried upside-down Dutch flags and placards reading “there is no nitrogen ‘problem'” and “no farmers, no food,” among other.
Dutch authorities pointed out that farming has increased levels of nitrogen oxides in water and soil beyond EU limits, with the government announcing plans to cut nitrate emissions 50% by 2030.
According to government officials, new rules are part of an “unavoidable transition” aimed at improving quality of water, air and soil. Ministers acknowledged that the move will force some farmers out of business.
Belgian farmers protested earlier this month in Brussels against similar rules proposed by their government, with agricultural groups warning that the proposed solution “will cause a socio-economic carnage.”
According to police estimates, farmers brought approximately 2,700 tractors to the city.
Environmental activists protest
Environmental activists also held a protest on Saturday, organized by the Extinction Rebellion group. The unauthorized protest took place several kilometers away from the farmers’ protest.
Environmental protesters carried banners reading “stop fossil fuel subsidies” and blocked a highway, with police dispersing the group with water cannons.
Protesters called on the government to end tax exemptions for coal power plants and oil refineries that were introduced to avoid double taxation, and exemptions for shipping and aviation industries agreed on EU level.
According to activists, Dutch tax rules encourage the use of fossil fuels and are not in line with the transition towards renewable sources of energy.