Nitrogen Emissions Plan: Protesting Dutch Farmers Dump Manure, Garbage On Roads

Dutch farmers protested government plans to reduce nitrogen emissions by dumping manure and garbage Wednesday on highways and setting fires alongside roads — the latest actions in a summer of discontent. Police urged them to stop for safety reasons and were investigating who was responsible.

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. Cleanup operations were expected to take hours on some roads.

By the end of the day, some roads were still not cleared, in part because some companies involved in the cleanup had received threats, said Diederik Fleuren, a spokesman for the the government’s roads and waterways organization Rijkswaterstaat.

“We are doing everything to clear the roads but … some contractors are being intimidated,” Fleuren told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. He said it was not clear when all the roads would be fully cleaned.

“It is very extreme now that people are being threatened” for assisting the cleanup, he added.

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 coalition government.

Police and security authorities appealed to farmers to halt what they described as dangerous situations.

“Protesting is a fundamental right and as long as it stays within the limits of the law, a lot is possible,” the emergency services said in a joint statement. But they said the latest actions “seriously endanger road safety and can lead to life-threatening situations for road users.”

The latest demonstrations came a day after a government-appointed mediator sent invitations to farmers’ organizations to discuss with the country’s ruling coalition ways of reducing nitrogen emissions.

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