Dutch head for trouble over nitrate accounting

France, Belgium, also face court raps as MEPs chastise governments over green law compliance

The Netherlands' complex system of mineral accounting to prevent excessive groundwater eutrophication by agriculture is incompatible with the EU nitrates directive, a European court of justice advisor said yesterday. If the view is backed by the full court the Dutch government may be forced to radically reconstruct the scheme.

Known as Minas, the system attempts to limit phosphate and nitrate pollution by monitoring movements of fertilisers and manures between farms and calculating losses of nutrients to the soil. Stiff fines are imposed for exceeding loss limits. Just last month the government relaxed some elements of the current Minas programme, confident the court would back it (EED 08/10/02). The case began in 2000 (EED 01/03/00).

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