‘You can protest, but not with tractors’
Farmers across the Netherlands have been protesting against environmental measures proposed by the Dutch government for a week, mainly by driving their tractors and other farm machinery into towns and cities, or by using them to blockade supermarket distributions centres.
This has led to a ban on protesting with tractors in Gronignen, Friesland, and Drenthe. In the city of Groningen, Mayor Koen Schuiling forbade the farmers from protesting with their tractors. The farmers then filed summary proceedings against the mayor, and it was just announced that a judge in Groningen has upheld the mayor’s decision. ‘You can protest, but not with tractors’, is the overarching message.
The court in Groningen ruled on Thursday morning that the ban on demonstrating with agricultural vehicles instituted by the Groningen Safety Region is to be upheld, reports the GIC.
The protest group Farmers Defense Force had filed summary proceedings to get the ban off the statute books; saying that they believe that tractors are part of a farmer’s protest. The use of agricultural vehicles is also necessary to be heard, they say. “If we protest with just a banner, we will not be heard. We can also take cows with us, but that’s quite difficult”, said the FDF in the Court.
The action group also argued in their plea that there have been no major incidents in recent days. Cooperation with the police seems to also have been upheld. However, the Security Region believes that the protesting farmers are violating traffic rules on a large scale and that this seriously violates the safety of the inhabitants of the province. It is also difficult to issue fines for this, because the tractors often have no license plate.
The police also say that the demonstrations are not announced beforehand, whilst the Security Region contests that the farmers have not used violence. For example, the farmers (unintentionally) entered the runway at Groningen Airport Eelde in a protest last week.
The Groningen Safety Region introduced a ban on demonstrating with agricultural vehicles last week, after the farmers campaigned for several days in a row, often trying to reach the city centre. At one point the tractors reached the Grote Markt. The ban was initially for a week, but that will likely now be extended.