Dutch police detain about 50 farmers protesting over pollution rules

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

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch police detained about 50 farmers who blocked a road with their tractors on Wednesday in protest against new environmental pollution rules which they say threaten their livelihoods.

The farmers had defied a ban on demonstrations to block the entrance to a waste disposal facility in the northern town of Wijster, the police said. Local media said those detained faced a 390-euro ($440) fine.

Farmers throughout the Netherlands have for months staged protests against regulations which they say will kill their business model and threaten the wellbeing of their animals.

They have at times caused big traffic jams by driving tractors slowly along roads and in city centres.

Earlier this week local authorities in three northern provinces banned the use of tractors at protests after farmers used them to block supermarket distribution centres in the region.

The latest protests are over government plans to limit the amount of protein in cow feed. This is meant to reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxides by the animals, but farmers say it will endanger their health.

The Netherlands has to reduce its nitrogen emissions because it was found last year to be in violation of European Union rules on “reactive nitrogen” pollution.

Farms are a major source of excess nitrogen, along with the construction and transport industries, and farmers feel they are being unfairly singled out.

Reporting by Bart Meijer, Editing by Timothy Heritage