Tractors Head to the Hague, Defying Ban on Farms Protest
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Farmers drove tractors toward The Hague early Saturday in defiance of a ban on the heavy vehicles imposed ahead of a protest against the government’s plan to reduce nitrate emissions.
The municipality imposed an emergency order in the city on a day when thousands of farmers were set to gather in a park and environmental activists from the Extinction Rebellion group were also planning a protest action on a major road. Authorities placed army trucks near some crossroads ready to block the streets if tractors tried to drive into the city center.
The demonstrations come days before Dutch voters go to the polls in provincial elections Wednesday that indirectly also elect the national parliament’s upper house and could have an effect on proposals for reducing nitrate pollution.
Rotterdam broadcaster Rijnmond showed video of a convoy of tractors crossing the city’s Erasmus Bridge early Saturday, apparently on their way to The Hague. One of the tractors was emblazoned with a banner saying in Dutch “#proudofthefarmer.”
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“We see tractors on their way to The Hague from various locations,” police in the city tweeted. “We are monitoring the roads and telling drivers of these vehicles not to enter The Hague.”
The city banned tractors, citing safety concerns. At protests in recent years, farmers have driven hundreds of tractors into the center of The Hague.
The government has said that nitrate emissionswhich are produced by livestock, transport and industry, 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.
The coalition wants to cut emissions of pollutants, predominantly nitrates, by 50% nationwide by 2030. Ministers call the proposal an “unavoidable transition” that aims to improve air, land and water quality, and have warned that it will mean “that not all Farmers can continue their business.
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