Dutch minister confirms ban on drilling, shale gas ‘not an option’

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The Netherlands will not give out any permits for the exploration for shale gas in the Netherlands, economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes has confirmed to parliament.

‘Shale gas is not an option in the Netherlands any more,’ Wiebes said. ‘We are not doing it. It is over and done with.’

The previous economic affairs minister Henk Kamp introduced a five-year moratorium on drilling for shale gas which expires in 2020.

Shale gas is ordinary natural gas that has been trapped in dense shale beds deep underground. It is extracted using a controversial process known as fracking, which involves drilling a hole deep into the shale and pumping in water mixed with sand and chemicals.

A number of local councils, water boards and even brewing groups like Heineken have come out against the production of shale gas in the Netherlands because of the risk of pollution.

Energy group Cuadrilla, which had been given a licence to test drill for shale gas at two locations in the Netherlands, is currently appealing to the Council of State against Kamp’s decision to suspend its licence after bringing in the five year ban.