In an open letter in Dagblad van het Noorden, State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief (Mining) has once again agreed with the residents of the earthquake area in Groningen and North Drenthe regarding gas extraction and the earthquakes that followed.
Vijlbrief also promises to correct the mistakes that have been made. “This is our last chance to do better. To do justice to your grief and pain. The policy must be more humane, the implementation milder.” He announces fifty measures.
What those measures are will become clear around 2 p.m. when the Secretary of State and Prime Minister Rutte visit the Groningen village of Garmerwolde. At that place, which was ravaged by earthquakes for years, they will give the formal government response to the final report of the parliamentary inquiry into gas extraction in Groningen. The measures will also appear on a specially designed government website.
Not enough attention
Two months ago, the parliamentary committee of inquiry ruled that the years of gas extraction had been disastrous for the people of Groningen and that the Netherlands owed Groningen a debt of honor. The committee concluded that for decades the safety of Groningen residents had been subordinated to financial and economic interests in gas extraction, and that too little attention was paid to the damage and fear caused by the earthquakes.
Last week, sources told NOS that the cabinet has more than 20 billion euros to compensate Groningen for gas extraction. Those billions are for “a generation-long approach” and should be used, among other things, for infrastructure and promoting equality of opportunity. The amount must also be used to pay for damage repair and reinforcement of houses.
Administrators from the region are demanding 30 billion in investments in quality of life, social cohesion and making homes gas-free. But the Groningen people believe that the costs for damage repair and reinforcement are separate from this. These costs are estimated at between 5 and 10 billion.
The cabinet intends to correct the mistakes and regain the confidence of the people of Groningen, writes Vijlbrief. “That is not arranged overnight. We still have a long way to go. Whether we are on the right track, I would like to keep talking to you about that. Because I need you for that.”
See here how Groningen gas brought in a lot of money for the treasury, but turned out to be a burden for residents of Groningen:
- The cabinet comes up with 20 billion euros for Groningen, considerably less than requested
- Rutte: conclusions about Groningen have come in hard, also for me personally
- Committee of inquiry: gas extraction disastrous for Groningen residents, the Netherlands has a debt of honor