Groningen officials call for cultural shift in quake compensation

Johan Remkes, René Paas and Koen Schuiling, at the press conference. Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijzen ANP
Johan Remkes, René Paas and Koen Schuiling, at the press conference. Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijzen ANP

The government needs to undergo a major cultural shift to properly compensate for the damage caused by earthquakes in Groningen province and to pay for shoring up damaged homes, senior provincial officials said on Monday.

In particular, the province is calling on the government to provide additional support to the province for 25 more years with extra investment in education, the energy transition and infrastructure.

The call follows the publication on Friday of a highly damning report on the official response to the earthquakes, which said the interests of the people of Groningen were systematically ignored by both the government and oil companies, and making money remained the dominant concern.

In particular, the report criticised the cumbersome systems set up to try to compensate home owners for the damage to their properties.

‘The people of Groningen’s hands are tied,’ king’s commissioner René Paas told a press conference.

‘A thousand civil servants are involved with the procedures,’ Paas said. ‘They now need to have the budget and the authority to make it possible to really help people… rather than constantly cite the rules.’

Groningen city mayor Koen Schuiling said the province now wanted to be the first Dutch region to go gas free, in 2035. Energy poverty, which is higher in Groningen than the rest of the country, also needs to be reduced, he said.

‘It is not a question of simply no longer extracting gas, it means no longer using gas,’ he said. ‘It is going to cost a lot of money, and it is difficult to assess how much. But it is about a change in attitude.’

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