Farmers head to Antwerp in protest against nitrogen policy

Hundreds of farmers took to the streets of Antwerp in tractors on Friday, in a protest against the Flemish government’s nitrogen emissions policy.

The organisers, Farmers Defence Force (FDF), is a new group based on the Dutch collective of the same name. “Unlike the [farmers’ association] Boerenbond, this is an initiative of purely farmers, not other players in the sector,” president Bart Dickens said. “We have no political ambitions, nor are we partisan. But we want to be listened to, because now people are just killing farmers.”

FDF believes the environmental focus is unfairly on nitrogen, particularly the emissions from agriculture, while other substances from industry and traffic are also responsible for air pollution and public health problems. It believes the agricultural sector would not survive additional nitrogen measures and numerous farms would have to close.

According to FDF, Flanders’ deal to reduce nitrogen emissions – a long-term headache for the regional government – uses incorrect figures on emissions from agriculture and favours industry, in particular the Ineos chemical plant in the port of Antwerp, which has been granted a permit for an ethane cracker.

The protest was held on the Spoor Oost site in Antwerp. The demonstrators gathered in various places outside the city before marching in convoy towards Spoor Oost. 



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