Green light for increase in Wadden Sea gas extraction worries MPs

MPs are concerned about the government’s decision to allow more natural gas to be extracted from under the ecologically-fragile Wadden Sea.

Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp has given the green light to the increase, saying the new licence is simply an adaptation of the current situation. This means drilling will stop if the sea bed goes down by more than six millimetres in one year.

But MPs from several parties want a more detailed explanation from the minister in light of the current commotion over gas extraction and subsequent earthquakes in Groningen province.

Jan Vos, from the ruling Labour party (PvdA), says he is concerned the drilling will damage one of the most beautiful parts of the country. And D66’s Sientje van Veldhoven says the problems in Groningen show the principle of ‘switching off the tap’ does not work, Nos television reported.

Local environmental groups want the government to set up an independent organisation to assess whether or not the sea bed goes down more than six millimetres a year. If that is the case, gas extraction must be stopped immediately, the organisations say.