The Ministry of Agriculture, before the Council of State in May put a line through the programmatic approach to nitrogen (PAS), ignored several signals that the politicians pointed out that the system was about to collapse, de Volkskrant writes Monday.
As a result, the ministry took insufficient measures to prepare for the scenario in which the highest court in the Netherlands would be negative about nitrogen policy, according to the newspaper. Many politicians said they had not taken the ruling into account.
The newspaper relies on internal documents and discussions with stakeholders. They claim that more than a year before the ruling, the ministry was already confronted with an analysis in which the consequences of a negative European Court ruling on Dutch policy were explained. At that time, there was already written about "withdrawal of already issued (building) permits".
Minister Carola Schouten (Agriculture) did not get to see the study, but later heard about it when other working groups started working on "scenario formation", the newspaper writes.
'European Court's negative judgment was interpreted as' rosy'
The European Court of Justice finally concluded in November that the PAS does not act according to the European directives to protect nature, but this ruling was interpreted by politicians as "rosy", according to de Volkskrant. Ministers decided that granting permits could go ahead.
Resistance to the ruling was set aside. The provinces of Overijssel and Brabant, for example, would have been critical of the European judgment. The latter provincial government was not even convinced until after the ministry called in a national lawyer to defend the system.
A proposal from civil servants to only grant permits in the direction of the Council of State's judgment with the message that they can be withdrawn in the event of a negative decision received zero in the complaint. de Volkskrant writes on the basis of sources that the ministry first wanted to await the verdict.
Five months after the decision, it is still unclear how to grant the license.
See also: Eight questions (and answers) about the nitrogen problem