Police have arrested seven people after thousands of farmers staged a protest in the Hague against the government’s environmental policies.
The farmers drove their tractors to the city center on Thursday, blocking roads and causing traffic jams. They demanded more respect and support from the authorities, who they accuse of imposing unfair regulations on nitrogen emissions and animal welfare.
The protest turned violent when police cordoned near the parliament building and messed with some farmers. Police used water cannons and batons to disperse the crowd. Seven people were arrested for public order offenses, according to a police statement.
The farmers’ union, LTO Nederland, said it regretted the clashes and urged its members to protest peacefully. It also said it was open to dialogue with the government to find solutions for the sector.
The Dutch government has been under pressure from the European Union and environmental groups to reduce nitrogen emissions, which contribute to climate change and damage biodiversity. In 2019, the country’s highest court ruled that the government’s policy was insufficient and ordered it to take action.
Since then, the government has proposed measures such as reducing the speed limit, buying out some farms, and changing animal feed. However, many farmers say these measures are too costly and threaten their livelihoods.
The farmers’ protest is the latest in a series of demonstrations in the Netherlands over various issues, including coronavirus restrictions, racism, and housing. The country is also preparing for general electionås in March next year, which could see a rise in support for populist and anti-establishment parties.