Environmental groups stand firm ahead of nitrogen talks

Environmental organisations are meeting mediator Johan Remkes to discuss the nitrogen pollution crisis on Monday, and say they will not agree to watering down government targets.

‘The number of livestock has to go down drastically, a large number of farmers will have to stop and those who remain will have to switch to sustainable methods,’ Johan Vollenbroek, from Mobilisation for the Environment, told broadcaster NOS. ‘There is no alternative.’

Greenpeace, the WFF, Natuur en Milieu and natural heritage organisation Natuurmonumenten will also be at the talks and all have said earlier they are not prepared to compromise.

Remkes has already held talks with farmers organisations and will meet industry, banks and local government officials later in the month.

He has been charged with trying to break the impasse following weeks of campaigning by radical farmers, who have dumped waste on motorways and blockaded supermarket distribution centres.

So far the talks have been far from smooth and large Dutch agribusinesses, such as animal feed firms, have already said they will not talk part unless the government makes concessions to the farmers.

The government has set a target of reducing nitrogen compound pollution by 70% by 2030, in order to meet EU guidelines on protecting sensitive natural environments.

Estimates about how many farms will have to close or slim down their operations vary widely.

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