Since early in the morning on the 4th of July, protesting farmers have blockaded a canal lock in Gaarkeuken, a hamlet in west Groningen. While cars are still able to cross the lock, the blockade has effectively halted ship traffic in the area, including transport vessels containing hazardous materials.
“On the entire Lemmer-Delfzijl waterway, about forty commercial vessels are waiting due to the farmers’ blockade of the lock at Gaarkeuken,” said Christian Kooistra, a representative from Rijkswaterstaat (Public Works and Water Management), reports RTV Noord. Some of the ships caught in the blockade are carrying dangerous or hazardous materials, potentially creating a safety risk, continues Kooistra.
As of 11:00 on the 5th of July, the situation shows no sign of relenting. According to RTV Noord, Ard van der Tuuk, mayor of the municipality of Westkwartier which includes the village of Gaarkeuken, has been in conversation with “a variety of parties” in the hopes of finding a solution to the blockade.
“We have nothing more to lose,” said Piet Postma, a protesting dairy farmer on the Gaarkeuken canal lock. He claims that they will not remove their tractors from the lock unless the government agrees to scrap its nitrogen plans, which would see emissions reduced by up to 95 percent across the country, a number which the protesters claim is unfeasible.
According to Postma, the protesters have not been approached by any municipality officials since the beginning of the blockade early on the 4th of July.
The protest on the canal lock in Gaarkeuken, which according to Postma has been supported by the local community who have brought food and supplies to the farmers, is the latest in a series of increasingly disruptive demonstrations. Elsewhere in the northern provinces, protestors have blockaded distribution centers and warehouses for supermarket chains such as Albert Heijn and Jumbo.
The cabinet has yet to announce significant changes to its nitrogen plans.