Work to protect houses in Groningen from future earthquake damage needs to speed up dramatically if the cabinet’s completion date of 2028 is to be met.
The mining regulator SodM said more than 1,000 homes were strengthened in the 12 months to April, up from 650 in the previous year.
But the rate of repair needs to be trebled to catch up on the backlog built up in previous years, SodM director Theodor Kockelkoren told NOS.
“Every year you fall behind on where you should be, while the target of 2028 is unchanged, means that you have to increase the speed and when you do the maths, it’s a factor of three,” he said.
Kockelkoren said the target was still achievable, but only if local authorities, the national co-ordinator for Groningen and the government in The Hague “pull out all the stops to sort things out with residents”.
The national co-ordinator, set up in 2020 to manage the repair programme in the Groningen gas field, has estimated that 13,000 buildings need to be strengthened, demolished or rebuilt.
SodM has warned that earthquakes will continue to hit the region for several years as the ground settles in areas where natural gas has been extracted.
Mines minister Hans Vijlbrief has said gas production will end on October 1 this year but the fields will not close for another 12 months because of the uncertain state of the global energy market.
“There is an invisible crisis in Groningen,” Kockelkoren said in a report published last week. “It is easy to underestimate the lack of safety in Groningen. The stress, distress and health problems mostly take place behind closed doors.
“Fortunately there have not been any fatalities caused by severe earthquakes, but the chance of it happening is still too high.
“So both for the safety of houses and the health of residents, the speed of the strengthening operation needs to be raised considerably.”
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