Over the next 30 years, the Cabinet will allocate 22 billion euros for the area in Groningen and northern Drenthe that has been plagued by earthquakes for decades as a result of natural gas extraction. The Cabinet also pledged that the government will do “whatever it takes” to compensate for the damage and to ensure that “everyone has a safe residence.”
The parliamentary inquiry into gas extraction, the final report of which was published two months ago, revealed how the government looked the other way for years when faced with the problems caused by gas extraction in Groningen. Financial interests almost always came first and the “disastrous consequences” for the people of Groningen received little attention for a long time.
In its ling awaited formal response to the report, released on Tuesday, the Cabinet once again apologized to anyone who has experienced feelings of “fear, stress and insecurity” as a result. It called acknowledgment of that suffering “an essential first step,” but insisted that it understands people also want solutions to their problems.
“The Cabinet not only wants to learn from the mistakes that have been made, but also wants to rectify them. This also includes the task of repaying the debt of honor to the region and its residents that has arisen due to 60 years of gas extraction.”
The Cabinet is implementing a series of measures to make the handling of claims “gentler, easier and more humane.” This expands the area in which people do not have to demonstrate that earthquake damage was caused by gas extraction. From now on, damage up to 40,000 euros will simply be reimbursed without an investigation into the cause.
This more generous approach can in some cases lead to overcompensation, “but the government takes this for granted.” It means less uncertainty and legal hassle for residents. In addition, the implementation burden at the Institute for Mining Damage Groningen (IMG) is being reduced.
The Cabinet will also allocate extra money to quickly make homes in earthquake areas more sustainable. It is precisely in this region that there is a lot of energy poverty, because the houses are relatively old and large. Residents have also often postponed investments in sustainability out of uncertainty about damage repair or reinforcement.
In addition, billions were earmarked for improving mental health and improving the quality of life and economic prospects in the area. The Cabinet wants to help Groningen develop into an “agricultural region of the 21st century.” In addition, the province will play an important role in the field of renewable energy.
A total of 22 billion euros is available for all these plans, part of which had already been released earlier. The Cabinet assumes that this will be “more than sufficient.” Regional administrators had previously asked for an investment amount of 30 billion euros.
Reporting by ANP
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