Environment key topic in Dutch provincial elections

The Dutch will elect their provincial parliaments and indirectly also the First Chamber of the national parliament today. New environmental regulations for agriculture which aim to slash nitrogen emissions and caused major protests last summer have emerged as the main topic in campaigns. But according to commentators this debate is just part of a much larger problem.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

No room for half-hearted policies

The fact that things have quite literally become tight in the Netherlands has finally come into focus in these elections, explains De Volkskrant:

“Not only the future of intensive livestock farming but also the perspective for nature areas and the entire spatial planning in almost all provinces depends on the way the government and the provincial leadership now enforce the reduction of nitrogen emissions. Basically, the debate has only just begun: the battle for space in this densely populated country.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Spatial planning must be a top priority

The future of the entire country is at stake, warns urban and landscape planner Zef Hemel in NRC:

“In reality this is about much more [than nitrogen], and should be a matter for the country's top leaders: a national spatial planning issue encompassing energy, infrastructure, living and working. Moreover, one must pose the question of whether we will even be able to keep on living here in the long run. ... It is becoming increasingly clear that we have to be much more careful with the fertile agricultural land, and that biodiversity is steadily decreasing. ... Also in view of the rising sea levels, we must put serious thought into what course the Netherlands should take in the long term.”