The Dutch government can continue low level gas extraction in Groningen for another year, according to a verdict from the highest Dutch administrative court.
Although the government has said that gas extraction in the earthquake-affected region will be stopped in 2024, it wanted to keep gas at a ‘pilot light’ level of 2.8 billion cubic metres this year.
The Groninger Bodem Beweging citizen movement and a number of people in the earthquake affected area brought a court case to protest the economic affairs junior minister’s decision, due to safety risks.
However, the Raad van State has now ruled that the government sufficiently justified its plan, proving that a base level of extraction was necessary to secure the country’s fundamental energy needs at this time.
It said that junior minister for mining Hans Vijlbrief had also taken enough measures to ensure that the extraction would be wound down as quickly as possible in order to end it entirely in 2024.
Earlier this year, a parliamentary commission found that the Netherlands has a “debt of honour” to the northerly region for decades of gas extraction causing more than 1,600 quakes of up to 3.6 on the Richter scale since 1986.
This seismicity has damaged more than 85,000 buildings and repair funds have been plagued with huge administration costs and complaints from residents that compensation was unreasonably withheld.
The state has earned the equivalent of €360 billion from the exploitation of the Groningen gas field since extraction began in 1963, but the parliamentary commission found that for years the plight of residents, home owners and children living in uncertainty was effectively ignored.
The government has now allocated €22.5 billion in current and future funding for the region, including financial help for children. Around a fifth of the gas reserve in Europe’s largest gas field is thought to be still under the ground.
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