The stone in the pond was long awaited, but the cabinets nitrogen plans do not cause fewer ripples around it. Farmers fear for their survival and three of the four coalition parties have heard criticism from the supporters in recent days.
It raises the question of how it ends with the ambitious plans and set goals. Will they continue unabridged or will they be watered down in the near future?
In short, the cabinet plans mean that in 131 areas close to vulnerable nature, emissions must be reduced by 70 percent, while in other areas this is 12 percent.
Provinces have to work out those goals, because they have knowledge of the area, is the idea. This must have happened before July 1 next year. Provinces can take measures for industry, construction and traffic. But the greatest sacrifice will be asked of livestock farming. It is clear that not all farms are going to survive.
Cancellations and angry phone calls
Coalition parties VVD, CDA and ChristenUnie received criticism from their supporters last weekend. There were cancellations, angry calls from provincial administrators and the congress of the VVD even voted the plan out on Saturday, much to the dismay of the party summit.
The unrest came together yesterday in the Chamber, where the groups were meeting. CDA party chairman Heerma drew attention with firm words. There must be adjustments “at crucial points”, because the plans are “not feasible”, it sounded.
But what needs to be adjusted remained vague. Heerma advocated innovation and customization by provinces. Both are already in the cabinet plans, but with his firm words, Heerma had at least stood up for the supporters.
The CDA does not want to change the goals. No coalition party, by the way. D66 party chairman Paternotte (the only one without significant peasant supporters) also noted this. “I have a lot of understanding that these are difficult political choices, but I dont think anyone wants to change the agreements.”
However, the VVD is in a split. MP Van Campen said that he wants to stick to the reduction targets and at the same time emphasized that he also wants to take the criticism of the members (who advocate adjustments) to heart. “That is a very difficult task,” he acknowledged.
And then there is another party that is rooted in the countryside: the ChristenUnie. There too, they have to deal with anxious members, including from the livestock rich Gelderland Valley, which turns a lot of red on the nitrogen emission map.
Party leader Segers insists that farmers are not only to blame. “There must be a fair distribution of pain: aviation, traffic, industry and construction must also contribute,” he said. “We cant move on until the other plans are in place.” So all at the same time and otherwise not, was his message.
This is where the shoe is potentially squeezing. Because the reduction plans for other sectors are not there at all yet. Aviation will arrive this summer, traffic and industry at the latest early next year. But in the meantime, the provinces already have to get to work.
This means, among other things, that they have to talk to farmers: do you not want to be bought out or move your business? Waiting for such talks complicates the situation, because in a year the plans will have to be completed.
The cabinet is in a hurry because nitrogen space is needed for housing, for example. With some regularity, projects come to a standstill, because the permits are successfully challenged in court. And that while there is a housing shortage.
At the Raad van State (RVs), the highest administrative court, a number of cases are ongoing that can have a major influence. One of them concerns a CO2 storage for which a so-called building exemption was granted during construction for the emission of nitrogen. It would be a blow to the cabinet if the RVs put a line through that, because many construction projects are arranged in this way.
Another case concerns the extension of the A15 motorway near Arnhem. There, only the nitrogen emissions within 25 kilometers of the highway are compensated, but according to opponents, it also ends up outside. A ruling on this can have major consequences for other (road) construction plans.
Furthermore, the RVs have yet to judge the so-called low-emission stable systems. There are doubts about the stables whether they emit as little as claimed, but in the meantime, permits are being granted to farmers to build them.
This statement also becomes interesting, even if only because a number of parties (CDA, VVD) are constantly emphasizing their desire to focus on innovation. And that innovation, for the time being, comes to a large part of the low-emission sheds.
All in all, enough legal and political ingredients not to silence the discussion about nitrogen for the time being. In any casecontinued next week, because then the House debates the plans of the cabinet.