“Cowboy Practices in Trading Nitrogen Rights”

"Cowboy Practices in Trading Nitrogen Rights"


The trade in nitrogen rights appears to be booming. Rijkswaterstaat needs them to build highways and municipalities to expand business parks. Perhaps now also the construction company that is renovating the House of Representatives like this turned today. There is now a proliferation of commercial companies offering nitrogen rights to farmers who want to stop for a lot of money.

ChristenUnie, the CDA and the VVD want to end the practices by which the highest bidder for nitrogen rights is operated upon. They think the government should step in and take over the central administration.

Harskamp’s Martin Rothenbeck on the Veluwe has had back problems for years. So the calf farmer was happy because he contacted Rijkswaterstaat through his brother, who trades in nitrogen rights.

Two mornings at the kitchen table and it’s done.

Rijkswaterstaat, which bought farms Ruitenbeek, isn’t the only party looking for nitrogen rights. Based on a decision by the State Council in 2019, no additional nitrogen may be deposited in nature reserves. So with every building plan nitrogen rights must be purchased as compensation.

In Apeldoorn, companies want to expand into a business park. Alderman Economics Jeroen John: “We’re working on a nitrogen strategy. We’re calculating how much we need and where. And also for the 9,000 homes we have to build until 2030.”

The city, which is surrounded by nature reserves, has now formed a veritable nitrogen team. She recently bought a farm for 2.1 million euros. The calculation model shows that there is enough room for nitrogen for a business park that wants to expand. “Because of the purchase of the purchased farm, it is now possible to expand the business park,” says Astrid Slice, nitrogen project leader.

Flynth Rombou, a consulting firm, combines supply and demand for nitrogen rights. The map of the Netherlands shows exactly where supply and demand meet. “We’re bringing the parties together to use the nitrogen as efficiently as possible,” says Stefan van Someren, advisor to agricultural companies.

“Cowboy practices,” calls it MP Peter Greenweiss of the Christian Union. “Really the strongest.” He finds that incomprehensible, especially in times of scarcity and in times of much-needed restoration by nature. “There are businessmen who wrongly don’t have a permit. We must do justice to them first and give them a permit. It is at this time that the government must take over.

“It can’t be the case that if we want to help nature and farmers get going, the government – say Rijkswaterstaat or Schiphol – will look for nitrogen to be able to build their own enterprises,” says Grinwis.


The MP is calling for the released nitrogen rights to be placed in a national nitrogen bank. So that the government can restore nature and legalize the so-called records: farmers who suddenly found themselves without a permit after the decision of the State Council. Under the old law, they were bound by notice, but now they suddenly need a permit. The government has not yet succeeded in regulating this.

The idea of ​​creating a national nitrogen bank is supported by a local councilor from Apeldoorn. “There shouldn’t be a mess. How do they arrange it, and as far as I am concerned in The Hague, I don’t care. As long as we can move forward quickly.”

Farms Ruitenbeek’s nitrogen rights in Veluwe are now being used in a different location than they were initially told. “It was intended for the Hoevelaken junction. But later we heard it was going to be used to widen the A27, very far from here,” says Ruttenbeck.

The provinces of Gelderland and Utrecht are very angry About the actions of the Rijkswaterstaat. They found it unacceptable that the national government would buy farms behind their backs and would now use the Veluwe nitrogen rights for a motorway in Utrecht.

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