Groningen householders lodge claim for distress linked to earthquakes

A condemned and shored-up cafe. Photo: Graham Dockery
A condemned and shored-up cafe. Photo: Graham Dockery

More than 100 people in Groningen province whose homes have been damaged by earthquakes linked to gas extraction are seeking compensation for trauma and distress.

Lawyers will argue at the district court in Assen that 127 householders should be compensated for ‘non-material damage’ as well as the loss to the value of their homes.

Pieter Huitema, of the Groningen law firm De Haan Advocaten, told NRC that his clients suffered from problems such as stress, lack of concentration, poor sleep and persistent anxiety. He hopes the court will establish a judicial principle that will open the doors for other claims.

More than 100,000 people have been affected by the earthquakes in the Groningen gas field. A study earlier this year found that only 60% of householders felt safe in their homes after they had suffered quake damage. The quakes are caused by the ground settling in areas where the gas has been removed from underneath the soil.

The government reduced annual gas production to 16.5 billion cubic metres at the start of this year. The number of earthquakes in the first half of 2016 was 50% less than a year earlier, according to the KNMI weather bureau.

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