The Dutch supreme court on Wednesday cleared the way for huge quantities of natural gas to be stored underground near Alkmaar, despite local and environmental group protests.
A consortium led by Taqa, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi national energy company, plans to inject natural gas into an empty gas reservoir over two kilometres deep under the Bergermeer polder. This would create the biggest natural gas storage facility in mainland Europe.
The scheme is part of Dutch government efforts to turn the Netherlands into a European gas hub and would contain over four billion cubic metres of gas – enough to supply 1.6 million Dutch households for a year.
In particular opponents of the scheme are worried about the risk of earthquakes along a fault line that crosses the region.
The court said that while there are uncertainties and doubts attached to the project, it may go ahead. ‘ Experts may be unable to make a realistic estimate of the risk of earthquakes [in the area] but the risk is not thought to be any greater than while gas was being extracted,’ the court ruling said.