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Agriport needs to grow, but do growers still want it in the Netherlands?

Horticulture needs perhaps 470 hectares of additional space in North Holland North by 2035. This is according to a 'needs assessment' among horticulture in concentration areas Agriport, Grootslag, and Alton. Growth is particularly needed around Agriport, predicts De Stec Group, which produced a report commissioned by GreenPort Noord-Holland-Noord and Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Noord-Holland-Noord.

The municipality of Hollands Kroon, which includes Agriport, will discuss the report on 23 October. The researchers analyzed the growth of the area of greenhouse horticulture over the past 22 years and extended that line to 2035. Taking into account developments such as robotization and energy transition, they arrive at the figure of 470 hectares. The demand comes mainly from greenhouse vegetables. Demand for cut flower acreage is seen declining.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen of Hollands Kroon is critical of the report, according to a letter sent to the municipal council. According to them, the fast growth of Agriport due to the relocation of horticulture from Westland to the greenhouse concentration area has not been properly taken into account. They also miss the trend that entrepreneurs, such as the large tomato growers in Agriport, are explicitly also looking at growth abroad. Finally, B&W misses attention to the impact of greenhouse horticulture growth on 'broad prosperity' in the area.

Business climate
The report quotes a grower who clearly shows that he is looking abroad. "We want to expand significantly. But not in the Netherlands. The establishment climate in the Netherlands gets worse every time. Staff are becoming much more expensive and difficult to obtain. Permit procedures are made complicated. Therefore, we are already abroad and will definitely not expand in the Netherlands either."

Names are not mentioned, but Kees van Veen of Agro Care has been very critical of the business climate in the Netherlands in the past. "We find the business climate in the Netherlands 'unpleasant', to put it mildly."

Growth is not an obligation
Pointing to the coalition agreement, the college wants to maintain the "existing contours" of Agriport and focus on "multiple uses of space". At Agriport, there is still an 'issuable supply' of 70 hectares. This is not enough, according to the researchers. They do point out that it should not be an obligation for North Holland to meet the entire growth demand.

"It is not an obligation to actually facilitate the demand for space. If a regional choice is made to (partially) facilitate this space in the future, a space requirement of around 320 to 420 hectares can be assumed. The choice to be made is: do we want to provide the space?"

View the researchers' report here (NL).