With ‘maximum power’, nitrogen minister Van der Wal traveled to Brussels last year to plead for a more flexible nitrogen policy. But alas, the EU was relentless. At least that was the story we read in the newspapers at the time. But the revealed minutes of the conversation at the time show that the fork is different. According to chemist Dr. Jaap Hanekamp it is not the EU, but the cabinet itself, that is making life miserable for Dutch farmers and fishermen through ‘deliberately inappropriate policy’.
Minister of Agriculture not with us
Van de Wal and three other ministers went to Brussels on 31 May 2022 to argue for a more flexible nitrogen policy. Contrary to what the media claimed at the time, Agriculture Minister Henk Staghouder (CU) was absent. Logically, in addition to the nitrogen minister, climate minister Jetten and minister Harbers for infrastructure and water were also present. The fourth ministerial member of the travel group was Hugo de Jonge from Public Housing. Their message at the time was that their backs were against the wall as ministers and that Virginijus Sinkevicius, the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, was relentless. However, from the minutes of the conversation published last December, this story appears to be incorrect.
EU commissioner “extremely critical” of the Netherlands
According to Dr. Commissioner Hanekamp is “extremely critical of what the Netherlands is doing at all” with regard to nitrogen policy. Sinkevicius thinks it’s a bad thing that the Netherlands has “no proper legislation” on this. His criticism lies mainly in the lack of concrete results of the Dutch nitrogen policy. According to Hanekamp, this criticism is not unfounded. The culprit is the nitrogen model of the RIVM (AERIUS). The model is almost thirty years old, and it has been known for years that it is not good, says Hanekamp. The problem is that this model is statutory. As a result, it is slavishly followed by the government to this day.
Nitrogen model RIVM “can’t do anything”
As a former member of the Advisory Board for Measuring and Calculating Nitrogen (AMBS), Dr. Hanekamp extremely critical of the legitimacy of the results of this outdated model: “AERIUS can do nothing at all.” It was therefore AMBS’ urgent advice to scrap this model. “The numbers that the model spits out have no meaning. Zero.” But politicians, including Van de Wal, have ignored this scientific advice, Hanekamp says. So we’re now in a curious situation where lawmakers are “propagating errors or omissions, deliberately, knowing that the model doesn’t work.”
Read also: What does the government really want with the nitrogen policy?
Dutch nitrogen occupation
In Germany and other (European) countries, nitrogen hardly plays a role. The Netherlands is unique in this area. “It’s a national choice to throw everything at nitrogen,” says Hanekamp. This is therefore not imposed from above by Brussels, but is a choice of the cabinet. The EU Commissioner nevertheless wants to see the results of our nitrogen policy. However, the outdated and incompetent nitrogen model stands in the way of reliable data. According to Hanekamp, between 25 and 30 billion euros are spent on our nitrogen policy, but it is not clear where this money is spent. “Nothing is known about that investment.” Brussels wants clarification on this.
‘The cabinet is not at all interested in nature policy’
It is therefore important, according to AMBS, that the current nitrogen model is scrapped and that we collect data based on a scientifically sound model on which we can base the nitrogen policy. The reason this isn’t happening is politically charged, Hanekamp surmises: “If you scrap AERIUS, the whole nitrogen policy will fall apart… there will be nothing left of it.” The big question is, of course, why the government does not want the nitrogen police to fall apart? So the nitrogen problem is actually ‘primarily a political problem’. Not the welfare of Dutch nature, but other motives seem to play the decisive role in nature policy. Hanekamp also concludes: “In fact, my conclusion is that the government is not interested in nature policy at all … and that is indeed a sad conclusion.”
Farmers and citizens pitted against each other
According to Hanekamp, there is therefore a clear conflict of interest with regard to the nitrogen policy. But what is even worse, according to him, is the sinister “false dilemma” that Public Housing Minister De Jonge outlines between housing and farmers’ nitrogen emissions. In fact, he blames the lack of housing on the farmers: ‘If they emitted less, we could build more houses.’ However, Hanekamp rightly points out that this is “scientifically based on nothing” and therefore has no causal relationship with each other. The government imposes these unnecessary nitrogen restrictions on both farmers and housing associations. Such a false dilemma was also created during the corona period between the unvaccinated and shop owners. Hanekamp fears that the current nitrogen policy will lead to great division: “Those who sow wind will reap storm. Maybe that’s the intention, maybe not, I don’t know at all, but that’s the result of this game being played.”
The downfall of science
The underlying tragedy in all of this is that science is no longer the foundation of policy, and its authority is being misused for other politically expedient ends. “For this cabinet, the truth is no longer interesting,” concludes Hanekamp. Because not science but ideological bias appears to be the driving force behind current nitrogen policy. This government values political correctness more than scientific correctness. Hanekamp deeply regrets this: “As a Christian, it really annoys me that the truth has been lost in the political game.” The ideological infiltration of science is a tragic consequence of the collapse of our Christian civilization.