On paper, low-emission stables significantly reduce the emission of ammonia (a nitrogen compound). However, according to two scientific studies, this decrease is disappointing in practice. After lower courts, the highest administrative court has now come to that conclusion.
The figures that are assumed “offer too little certainty that nature will not be damaged”, concludes the highest administrative court. According to European nature conservation rules, this certainty is required when granting nature permits. Livestock farmers need such a nature permit if they want to expand, for example, to ensure that this does not cause additional damage to nature.
This ruling concerns three dairy farmers in the province of Utrecht who do not let their cows graze outside. Their expansion has been canceled for the time being with this position of the Council of State.
The ruling of the Council of State has considerable impact, says Jan Erisman, professor of environment and sustainability at Leiden University, to RTL Z. “There is a chance that farmers who already have this type of housing system will have to demonstrate that their emissions have no effect. .”
Good measuring method is missing
The concerns that farmers may now have about other adjustments and low-emission housing systems are also justified, he says. “It turns out that these kinds of barn modifications function much better in a test barn than in practice. One of the major adjustments that must be made is that the farmer can see for himself what his emissions are, so that he can take measures based on that. But so far there has been a lack of a good measuring method for this.”
In this case, the Council of State has determined for two specific barn systems, A1.13 and A1.28, that when assessing a permit application, provinces may no longer assume that the barn systems really do what they promise. In total there are over fifty of this type of low-emission housing systems.
Need further investigation
The ruling does not apply to these other types of low-emission dairy barns, nor does it apply to low-emission barns in poultry and pig farming.
The judges are aware that their ruling will make it even more difficult for dairy farmers to obtain a permit. “But the strict European nature conservation rules to which the Netherlands has committed itself do not allow for a different outcome.”
In the video below we explain the consequences of too much nitrogen for nature:
Further research into low-emission stables should provide clarity quickly, the Council of State urges the government. The Ministry of Agriculture wants to investigate this as soon as possible, says Erisman. “So that you know for sure that a technology meets the requirements.”
As far as he is concerned, farmers should now wait with investments until the government’s policy is more definitive. “If you have to reduce emissions by 20 percent, you can still manage that with new techniques. If that is 40 to 50 percent, it becomes more difficult. And there are also tasks for climate and water quality, those systems are not yet sufficient either. So just wait.”
Source: RTL Nieuws by www.rtlnieuws.nl.
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