Farmers on Frontline as Dutch Divided by War on Nitrogen Pollution
Government’s buyout scheme is meeting fierce resistance from farmers in Netherlands
Veal farmer Wim Brouwer sits on his terrace, an “emergency” red flag flying outside and his laptop open on a page revealing he is one of the Netherlands’ peak polluters, due to the nitrogen excreted each year by his 1,360 calves.
Nitrogen compound emissions are a big matter in this small, packed country, becoming the dominant political issue over the course of a four-year crisis. Among other impacts, the crisis has hampered crucial housebuilding, because builders need nitrogen permits from a limited supply to cover construction emissions. The crisis has polarised social opinion, spurring the rise of a new rural populist movement and mobilizing environmentalists who are desperately concerned about the state of wild habitats.