People living in the Brabant town of Boxtel, earmarked as a test site for shale gas extraction, are planning to take their protest to The Hague, Nos television reports.
Locals are angry the government is planning to sanction test drilling before deciding on the value and economic benefits of shale gas and worry about the impact of the project on the local environment – particularly the risk of earthquakes.
Local water board Brabant Water has already said it will carry out its own research into the effect of extracting shale gas on drinking water. The government’s report published on Monday is inadequate and does not look at the potential risks for water supplies, the company is quoted as saying by Nos.
Test drilling will not take place before the second half of 2014 at the earliest, economic affairs minister Henk Kamp told reporters on Monday. ‘There is a long way still to go,’ Kamp said.
Kamp said extracting shale gas will generate ‘several tens of billions of euros’ for the Netherlands but is more expensive than traditional gas because of the extraction process.
Shale gas will contribute to the ‘spending power of ordinary people’ Kamp said, adding that he hoped protestors would take the interests of the nation as a whole into account.
The report giving the green light to extracting shale gas from deep under the Netherlands will be first assessed by a commission of environmental experts before any final decision is taken, Kamp said.
‘The report shows the risks attached to finding and extracting shale gas can be managed using current legislation,’ Kamp said. ‘And test drills will be needed to test the potential benefits of shale gas to the Dutch economy.’
British company Cuadrilla Resources has already applied for licences to carry out test drilling in three places in the Netherlands – Boxtel, Haaren and Noordoostpolder.
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.
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