The Hague declares state of emergency amid farmers’ protests

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Protesters leave a demonstration of Dutch farmers aiming to block the traffic in The Hague, Netherlands October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government, has declared a state of emergency on Friday to prevent farmers from driving their tractors into the city to protest the government’s mandatory fertilizer reduction targets.

The city authorities said they had received credible information that farmers were planning to disrupt public order and safety by blocking roads and buildings with their vehicles. They also said they feared possible clashes between farmers and other protesters who support the government’s climate policies.

The state of emergency gives the police extra powers to stop and search people, confiscate objects, and impose fines or arrests for violating the ban on tractors. The measure will remain in effect until Monday.

The farmers’ protests are part of a wave of demonstrations that have spread across the Netherlands and other European countries in recent weeks. The farmers are angered by the government’s plan to cut nitrogen fertilizer emissions by 50% by 2030, which they say will threaten their livelihoods and force them to reduce their livestock.

The government says the plan is necessary to comply with EU directives and court rulings on preserving vulnerable habitats and biodiversity. It has allocated €25bn (£20bn) to help the farming sector transition to more sustainable practices.

The farmers have rejected the plan as unrealistic and unfair, and have demanded more compensation and flexibility. They have also accused the government of scapegoating them for the environmental problems caused by other sectors, such as traffic and construction.

The protests have been mostly peaceful, but some incidents of violence and vandalism have occurred. In July, farmers set fire to hay bales, dumped manure on highways, and blocked supermarket distribution centres. In August, farmers clashed with police in The Hague and Amsterdam, and damaged a bridge linking Crimea to mainland Russia.

The government has said it is willing to engage in dialogue with the farmers, but has also warned that it will not tolerate any threats or disruptions to public order. The farmers have vowed to continue their protests until their demands are met.

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