Almost fifty years after the closure of the last coal mine in Limburg, a compensation fund will be set up for minor mining damage, such as cracks and subsidence. The first damage reports will be processed in the middle of this year.
This has been announced by State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief. It is not yet known exactly what the damage fund will look like. “In any case, the idea is to create an accessible counter to support and unburden the inhabitants of Limburg,” the state secretary writes to the House of Representatives.
Although coal has not been mined in Limburg since the end of 1974. old mines still cause damage to buildings. Collapsed mine shafts and mine water can cause subsidence in the soil, resulting in cracks in walls or subsiding buildings. In July 2020, thirteen homes had to be evacuated in Kerkrade after a large hole suddenly appeared in the road. That was caused by a 300-year-old mine shaft.
Small claims barred
The Calamiteitenfonds Mijnschade was established in 2015, but so far it only compensates for serious mining damage in Limburg. ‘Small’ claims are submitted, but never actually reimbursed. According to 1Limburg, this is because the former mining companies claim that those small claims for damages are time-barred.
The Secretary of State disagrees. With the establishment of a compensation fund for minor mining damage, he makes it clear that ‘normal’ compensation will also be available in 2023. “This means that when a claim is caused by the former coal mining, the ministry will compensate the damage to the citizen,” says Vijlbrief. “The ministry will then claim the amount from a legal successor if one still exists.”
So not in The Hague
Jan de Wit of the Calamiteitenfonds Mijnschade is pleased with the announcement of the new fund. “If it works out before the summer, that’s great news. But it’s not a done deal yet, because we’re still talking about how things should be done,” he says. “There must be a foundation or institute here in the region that will help Limburgers,” says De Wit. “Close to the place where it all takes place, making it easy for people to approach. Not in The Hague.”
The number of minor damage reports is not yet clear. Vijlbrief does not venture to name a few. De Wit estimates it at 10,000. It will become clear later this year how much money is available for the scheme.
- Homes in Kerkrade evacuated after road subsidence