Netherlands promises stricter nitrogen rules as nature continues to deteriorate

Hulanda Ta Priminti Reglanan Mas Estricto Di Nitrogeno Ya Cu Naturalesa Ta Sigui Deteriora

In the coming years, nitrogen standards will become stricter than they are now, reports the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality after research by the Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The critical disposition value (CDV) that is currently used, which determines the maximum amount of nitrogen an area can take before damage occurs, is not strict enough to protect nature.

The Wageningen experts reviewed the CDV for various habitat types. They concluded that the standard should become stricter for most of them to align with the latest scientific insights about what nature can handle.

The researchers added that their estimates are “on the conservative side.” They explained that nature has been under pressure for decades due to, among other things, acidification and eutrophication – processes mainly caused by nitrogen precipitation.

The court assesses its rulings based on this CDV. Politicians will, therefore, adhere to it. In the coming period, the RIVM will examine the new figures from WUR. After that, it will be a scientific fact that politicians must respond to, said a spokesperson for the MInistry. Although it is the next Cabinet that will come up with stricter measures, the current outgoing Cabinet must already comply with the stricter CDV.

The Cabinet eventually wants to stop using the CDV. A working group of the Ministry of Agriculture is currently working on an alternative, which not only looks at nature but the overall conservation of nature areas. But until the alternative is ready, the courts will adhere to the CDV.

The government aimed to reduce nitrogen precipitation enough so that 39 percent of vulnerable nature is no longer overburdened in 2025. But based on the current calculations, that percentage has stalled at 29 percent. The target for 2030 was 43 percent, but will likely not top 30 percent. According to the law, 40 percent of nitrogen-sensitive areas must be healthy again by 2025.

Later this year, the government will announce for which areas the nitrogen standard will be stricter. The NOS already reported, based on its own research, that stricter standards will need to apply to 47 percent of the Netherlands’ nature. The CDV will be tightened significantly around the Veluwe, NOS reports.

According to outgoing Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal, the task of reducing nitrogen has “unfortunately become bigger. That is worrying news for nature and for everyone who works so hard on our joint task to restore nature.” She also thinks it is bad news for permit space. As long as there is no room for more nitrogen emissions, no permits can be issued for new construction, for example.

Farmers action group: Stricter rules “unfeasible” and “rigid”

The farmers’ action group Agractie maintains that the Netherlands’ focus on nitrogen “leads to a standstill” and “does nothing” for nature. Now that it is clear that the standards will become even stricter, Agractie foreman Bart Kemp wonders how the government intends to legalize the PAS reporters.


PAS reporters are farmers whose environmental permits for nitrogen emissions were declared invalid by the Council of State when it ruled the Netherlands’ Nitrogen Approach Program illegal in 2019. These farmers are desperate for a permit for their nitrogen emissions but can’t obtain one because there is no space for nitrogen emissions – the nature in their areas can’t take any more precipitation, so the government can’t issue a permit for more emissions.

Agractie repeated that the CDV must be scrapped from the law. “Stop building on a rotten foundation and put the real state of nature at the center of policy instead of the unfeasible rigid CDV,” Kemp repeated his standpoint on Thursday.

Curacao Chronicle/ photo pitxaunlio

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