Dutch government to spend millions on limiting nitrogen emissions

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Friday it would spend hundreds of millions of euros to mitigate nitrogen emissions, in a move it hopes will pave the way for thousands of building projects to be restarted.

Around 18,000 building projects in the Netherlands, worth billions of euros, risked being shelved after the country’s highest court ruled in May that the way Dutch builders and farmers dealt with nitrogen emissions breached European law.

That has caused delays to work on new highways, housing blocks, airports, wind farms and a range of other vital infrastructure, with many other projects also at risk.

The government said it would offer subsidies to farmers who are either willing to give up their business or want to invest in limiting their emissions.

Emissions will also be reduced by lowering speed limits on highways near nature reserves.

Labor unions said the plans did not do enough to solve the immediate problems in the construction sector, where Dutch bank ABN Amro calculates that around 70,000 jobs may be at risk if a solution is not found.

Nitrogen emissions, which in large quantities threaten specific types of plants and the animals that feed on them, are relatively high in the small but densely populated Netherlands -- home to important industries and a large agricultural sector.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Catherine Evans