Happy farmers in Groningen after a surprise ruling on the nitrogen limit

Happy farmers in Groningen after a surprise ruling on the nitrogen limit
Farmer Lammert Westerhouse

The Council of State (RvS) came to a surprising ruling this week: The 25-kilometer limit the government uses for nitrogen deposition is not against the rules. Nitrogen located more than 25 kilometers from the source may be ignored by the government when granting permits.

Good news for no fewer than 29 farms in Groningen, all PAS correspondents. Their licensing issues seem to have been resolved immediately. Farmers – around Imshaven and Delfzell – more than 25 kilometers from the nearest nature reserve suffer from excessive nitrogen concentrations. After the decision of the State Council, the restrictions imposed on them no longer apply. They do not require a nature permit, according to the Prefecture of Groningen.

Incredible poultry farmer and arable farmer Lammert Westerhouse:

Farmer Westerhouse could not believe the verdict

Farmer Westerhuis wants to retrofit his farm. “It’s an expansion of floor space, not more animals, but an adaptation of the houses. To give the chicks more space.” Since he no longer needed a permit, he could continue with his plans. “You have an idea of ​​how to develop and grow your company. I always have a positive attitude, but of course you never know. Now I have more clarity. My nitrogen does not affect nature reserves.”

Happy farmers, but experts say about half of the nitrogen emissions from some projects end up outside a 25-kilometre radius. “The State Council really made a choice and said that the calculation model we’re using is reliable up to 25 kilometers. So it’s justified that we set that limit at 25 kilometres,” says Christine Visser, an administrative and environmental law attorney.

peak loaders

Of course, nitrogen impacts will also occur outside the 25-kilometer zone, but the calculation tool is not good enough to properly relate these impacts to an individual project, Visser says. “For companies outside the 25 kilometer limit, that provision has now expired. They are no longer required to perform a nitrogen calculation.”

Visser believes the focus should now be on activities close to a nature reserve. “Although, according to experts, the calculation model as a tool is not well suited for evaluating individual projects, I think the appropriate alternative to licensing is still long. And even then, we have a 25-kilometer limit.”

Nothing has changed for the government as a result of the ruling, Visser says. “The government’s job is to help or address companies that are located near a nature reserve with their nitrogen emissions. And that commitment was already in place. Currently the cabinet is also working on this and work is being done on peak lifts. It doesn’t change with this statement. So I think the impact is It will not lead to more nitrogen in balance.”

This is also what the farmer Westerhouse expects. “It’s all about the critical sedimentation value. It has to go down. That’s what every farmer wants. We can go on. It’s now arranged for the 29 PAS reporters.”

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