Mixed feelings in Groningen after cabinet promises: ‘Package could have been thicker’ 16:15 in Binnenland Groningen reacted with disappointment to the cabinet’s words about repairing the damage in Groningen.

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Johan Remkes, Koen Schuiling (mayor of Groningen) and René Paas (Commissioner of the King) during the government’s response to the report of the parliamentary inquiry into gas extraction in Groningen.
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Disappointment, doubts, but also a step in the right direction. In Groningen people reacted with mixed feelings to the words of the cabinet about the damage repair of Groningen gas extraction.

Prime Minister Rutte and State Secretary Vijlbrief (Mining) gave the government’s response to the report of the parliamentary inquiry in Garmerwolde, Groningen. A total of more than 22 billion euros has been reserved for solving the problems resulting from gas extraction.

Apart from these billions, the handling of damage repairs must be “milder, easier and more humane”, according to Vijlbrief in the presentation. Rutte said he understands that the formal response to the Groningen people comes across as “here we go again”, after which a woman in the room nodded in the affirmative. “I understand the skepticism and mistrust. We realize that we have to show it,” said the prime minister.

‘Could have been thicker’

But whether the cabinet is actually doing what it can with these words and measures, they are not convinced in Groningen.

The king’s commissioner, René Paas, is extremely critical of the promises. “I have serious doubts whether this debt of honor can be paid off with these measures. If I take a serious and critical look at the package, I don’t know if you can remove all differences and uncertainties.”

Paas thinks that the package of measures “could have been a bit thicker” and has little confidence that the cabinet will pay off that debt of honor. “On a few points I am sure that the cabinet will not make up for it. In the social domain, the economy and infrastructure, the cabinet offers much less than we need.”

After all the promises, many Groningen residents say: ‘Seeing is believing’

Koen Schuiling, mayor of Groningen, has mixed feelings about the words and measures taken by the cabinet. “Good steps have been taken: residents are being helped better, faster and more humanely. These are positive messages,” Schuiling begins.

“But we have put together a package to ensure that the social disadvantage in the area is made good, the cabinet has set up financial restrictions there. Reservations have also been made for the necessary infrastructure. There are many concerns on our part.”

Not everyone in the House of Representatives is enthusiastic about the government’s plans either. SP Member of Parliament Sandra Beckerman, who has been committed to the people of Groningen for years, finds the amount allocated for social recovery in the quake area (7.5 billion euros) “an insult”. She points out that an estimated 400 billion euros worth of gas has been pumped from the Groningen soil.

Seeing is believing

Just like Beckerman, PvdA member Henk Nijboer thinks that it is mainly the people with the greatest damage that will continue to suffer. It will be easier for anyone with damage under 40,000 euros, but people with damaged foundations and farmers with subsided manure cellars still have to make a lot of effort to get justice, fears Nijboer.

He finds the planned investments in quality of life and catching up with the backlog in Groningen “a bit of a grab bag of small projects without a clear vision”. Nijboer calls State Secretary Vijlbrief sincere. “But first see and then believe.”

  • Groningen will receive an extra 13.5 billion euros for damage, reinforcement and ‘debt of honor’
  • State Secretary in open letter to residents of quake area: ‘You have always been right’
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