THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (AP) – Dutch farmers resumed protests at government plans to reduce nitrogen emissions yesterday by dumping manure and garbage on highways and setting fires alongside roads.
Traffic authorities said several roads in the central and eastern Netherlands were completely or partially blocked by the early morning blockades and fire services rushed to clear roads as traffic built up. Clean-up operations were expected to take hours.
Dutch media reported that at one location, a sign was left behind that said: “Sorry for the inconvenience, Rutte IV is driving us to despair,” a reference to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government, the fourth coalition he has led.
The latest demonstrations in a summer of discontent came a day after a government-appointed mediator sent invitations to farmers’ organisations to discuss with the country’s ruling coalition ways of reducing nitrogen emissions.
“I see the talks as a turning point: breaking the deadlock together,” mediator Johan Remkes said. “The Cabinet has assured me that there is room and joint solutions are possible.”
Some farmers have rejected the appointment of Remkes as an independent mediator because he is a member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right political party and a former deputy prime minister.
The farmers are angry at government targets for reining in emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia that they said threatens to wreck their agricultural way of life and put them out of business.
The government said emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia, which livestock produce, must be drastically reduced close to nature areas that are part of a network of protected habitats for endangered plants and wildlife stretching across the 27-nation European Union (EU).