Plans to build a gas drilling platform and pipeline in the North Sea off the coast of the island of Schiermonnikoog have been put on hold by judges because of the potential damage to nature.
The court ruled that it is not clear what the impact of nitrogen compound emissions associated with the rig and gas extraction will mean for vulnerable areas in the neighbourhood.
The case was brought by several environmental organisations from the Netherlands and Germany. In particular, they say, the drilling may cause irreversible damage to the Borkumse Stenen, an underwater habitat which has been left largely untouched by fishing.
The Dutch government gave the green light to the project last June, despite plans to phase out the use of natural gas because of its impact on the environment.
Mines minister Hans Vijlbrief said at the time reports showed all the environmental conditions were being met.
Locals on the island, which has a population of under 1,000 are also opposed to the plan.
The aim was to start production next year and the gas company One-Dyas said it hoped to be able to stick to the schedule. ‘We will look at the options in the coming week,’ the company is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS.
Work on the project will now stop until a new court case in September which will look at the case in detail and make sure all licencing conditions have been met.
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