The Farmers Defense Force (FDF) action group has begun a protest this morning in The Hague along with several other Dutch cities.
By 5 AM this morning, around 100 tractors from North Brabant had arrived in The Hague, and hundreds more have since joined.
The FDF initially wanted to demonstrate at Paleis Huis ten Bosch, in order to deliver a letter to King-Willem Alexander, according to NU. The letter would have been a plea for help, but this was not allowed.
Instead, the protest is taking place at the Koekamp (a forested park in the city).
Opposing the Environmental Act
The farmers oppose the Environmental Act, which was passed in parliament four years ago.
The government wants to purchase agricultural businesses surrounding Natura 2000 areas to preserve the existing nature.
The Environmental Act merges the current regulations on spatial planning, construction, nature, environment, and water, and reduces permit requirements, with the intention of minimising red tape and bureaucratic hassle.
The law has yet to take effect, as it has seen a series of delays in recent years. The intention is now for an introduction of the policy to take place in early 2022.
The FDF is concerned that under the new Environmental Act, farmers’ permits will expire. Although, the Agriculture and Horticulture Organisation (LTO) Netherlands states that existing permits and laws under the Environmental Act will not change.
The farmers fear that under the cabinet’s new purchase scheme, they will have no option to start a new business elsewhere once their farm has been bought up.
Requesting the king
The reason the FDF is reaching out to the king is that he is the last hope for a change in the new law — the law is only valid once it’s been signed by the head of state.
The farmers’ campaign, coined “Code Oranje”, also aims to prevent the House of Representatives from signing off on the government’s nitrogen plans.
Hundreds of farmers are expected to demonstrate for two hours this morning, from 9 to 11 AM. The municipality of The Hague has approved a demonstration for 759 farmers. Coronavirus measures will apply.
What do you think of the farmers’ protests? Do you agree or disagree with their position? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.