Minister Christianne van der Wal (Nature and Nitrogen) knows that even after the presentation of the cabinet’s nitrogen plans, farmers still do not know where they stand. “Unfortunately, I was unable to provide clarity about what it means per area,” said Van der Wal on Thursday evening during a debate in the House.

    “We are at the starting point,” said Van der Wal. “We will work with the provinces to see how we are going to achieve those goals.”

    Despite a map showing in percentages per region, although nitrogen must be reduced, it is not yet clear what exactly needs to be done in the regions. But as the RIVM, the maker of the map, already informed MPs in a briefing: these are “directive percentages”.

    The provinces have until 1 July 2023 to show how they want to achieve these goals. As long as it is established that by 2030 at least three quarters of the nitrogen-sensitive nature areas will no longer deteriorate and nitrogen emissions will have been reduced by half.

    This also means that farmers do not yet have clarity. That is a consequence of this method, said Van der Wal. “The alternative was that I would have dictated from The Hague how the reduction should be achieved in all areas, however different they may be. I do not want that.”

    Much criticism of map

    The card received a lot of criticism. Because although they are directional goals, each area has a color that represents a percentage of nitrogen emissions that must disappear. Coalition party ChristenUnie, among others, did not understand how this “noise” arose.

    Van der Wal sighed that when presenting the plans she tried “in all sincerity” to explain that it is “a point of departure” and only serves as an “indication”.

    She also warned that “a lot of noise” is still going to develop. “That card continues to develop.”

    BBB, JA21 and PVV, among others, hoped that Van der Wal would ask the European Union in Brussels for an exception. For example, so that the protected nature areas can be classified differently. But that hope was quickly crushed by the minister.

    “We are the worst boy in the class. That is the message,” said Van der Wal. “Europe does not grant us anything anymore, because we have not kept the agreements for thirty years.”