Yesterday The Hague was host to thousands of farmers and their tractors. The reason? Farmers protesting one of the government parties proposed reducing nitrogen emissions by 50% by reducing the number of livestock sold. This was after the Council of State (the highest Dutch administrative court) ruled that nitrogen levels were too high around some nature areas.
The farmers had already protested in The Hague on October 1st, also with their tractors. This caused a nation-wide traffic jam of 1,000km (620 miles) in the morning on their way to The Hague. Additionally, there was also a protest earlier this week in various provinces, with some less-than-desired outcomes in the Groningen province (including a farmer using their tractor to break down the door to the province building, another tractor ramming through blockades and narrowly missing a cyclist, etc.).
Since the farmers wanted to protest in the Binnenhof, which is never allowed, The Hague decided to rent out heavy equipment to block major streets into the city centre. This was also done to protect any shoppers Which wasn’t completely successful yesterday as there is a video on the internet of smaller tractors going through a side shopping street.
The only problem with renting heavy equipment was that the private companies hired last time on October 1st didn’t like the abuse they received from protesters and refused to help again. Therefore The Hague government decided to ask the military for help. Therefore, most of the streets were blocked by a mix of heavy military equipment and police cars. To say it looked eerie yesterday in The Hague was an understatement.
Who needs to take the tram? No one in this area, that’s for sure. Above is a picture of one of the tram 16 stops in the city centre – the tractors were able to penetrate a police/military blockade and take over the area around the old city hall. By lunchtime yesterday most of the city centre was unreachable by public transportation, so most tram and bus lines skirted around it. But there was enough warning that this was going to happen, at least.
Above you can see one of the local news crews at right (for Omroep West). And here’s a look at some of the military equipment in the background:
The sign on the tractor says “Nonsense about nitrogen and PFAS won’t hold us back. We will work [to produce] all the food.” (PFAS = Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
In the background the military equipment is blocking De Passage, a covered shopping area. The military equipment was still there today, until at least lunchtime. Around that point most of the farmers who spent the night in the city started returning home. The rainy, dreary weather probably played a part in that decision…