Dutch environmental groups under fire

Dutch Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer says she may curb the supply of government subsidies to environmental organisations. She told the press on Saturday that she may even cut them off altogether.

Ms Cramer was responding to continuing harsh criticism of a number of environmentalist groups. One of them, Friends of the Earth Netherlands,

has been attacked for its “dogmatic” and “undemocratic” campaign against illegal logging.

The campaign prompted the senior party in the ruling three-way coalition government, the Christian Democrats, to urge Minister Cramer to reconsider government support for environmental organisations.

In keeping with her Social Democrat leanings, Ms Cramer came out in defence of the environmentalists. In her view, they have an important part to play in involving citizens in environmental policies. Ms Cramer said the majority of the Dutch population has no objection to subsidies to groups that are critical of the government policy.

However, without naming names, Ms Cramer indicated a line has to be drawn. She said that the government has to be very critical with regard to organisations that provide “biased information” and “participate in the social debate in an undemocratic way”. Such behaviour, she warned, could lead to a termination of financial support.

“Greenpeace is a criminal organisation”
In a related development, Dutch fishermen are refusing to talk with Greenpeace any longer about the allocation of nature reserves in the North Sea. “We don’t negotiate with a criminal organisation”, said Ben Daalder, the President of the Federation of Fishermen Associations.

The Federation’s decision came a few days after Greenpeace dumped boulders off the coast of Denmark and Germany, in a fishing area were shrimpers, in particular, are very active. Their trawl nets may now catch the boulders and this may cause ships to capsize.

Greenpeace said it has dumped the boulders to prevent fishing boats from damaging the sensitive sea floor. Mr Daalder said: “What Greenpeace is doing is highly dangerous.” He added that fishermen will still negotiate with other environmental organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Dutch environmental groups under fire
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