Dutch farmers, construction workers protest pollution policy

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Farmers and construction workers protested across the Netherlands early Wednesday, driving in slow-moving convoys during the morning rush hour to demonstrate against government policies aimed at cutting pollution.

Traffic authorities warned commuters that the morning rush hour would be busier than usual and police issued fines to some farmers for driving their tractors on the highway as the latest in a series of protests clogged roads around the country.

Police closed off a major highway near Amsterdam when farmers drove tractors onto the road.

Protester Jacco van den Berg told Dutch national broadcaster NOS that the action was aimed at showing that construction workers are prepared to take action to protect their livelihoods, which they say are threatened by measures to reduce pollution.

“Something has to happen," he said. "We’re coming up to Christmas and there are companies that won’t make it to Christmas.”

Many construction projects were halted earlier this year when a Dutch court ruled that the government’s policy on granting building permits breached European pollution laws.

The protests came a day after Dutch senators approved legislation to cut emissions of the pollutant nitrogen oxide. Measures include making farmers change the feed they give to livestock and extending a voluntary scheme to buy up pig farms.

The new legislation, which has already been approved by the lower house of Parliament, also lowers the maximum speed limit on Dutch highways from 130 kph (80 mph) to 100 kph (62 mph).

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