Tuesday 10 December 2019

Earthquakes have not caused house price drop, says minister

There is no evidence yet that property prices have gone down in parts of Groningen because of the earthquakes, economic affairs minister Henk Kamp said on Wednesday during a visit to the worst affected areas.

Kamp’s visit coincided with another quake on Tuesday night which registered 3.0 on the Richter scale and caused some minor damage to property.

Four main research projects are currently underway into the cause and impact of the quakes, one of which looks at regional house prices. According to the preliminary findings, although houses are now cheaper in northern Groningen, they have also gone down in comparable areas elsewhere.

Nevertheless, this finding does not dovetail with local ideas and developments will continue to be monitored, Kamp said in a briefing. If a causal effect can be established, there will be a compensation agreement, Kamp said.

The epicenter of Tuesday night’s quake was close to the town of Loppersum, which the minister visited later in the day.

Protests

The quakes are being caused by the ground settling following the extraction of large fields of natural gas. After a string of quakes in February there were calls for natural gas extraction in the area to be scaled back.

Kamp is visiting the province for a fact-finding mission following fears quakes in the region are getting stronger. An economic affairs ministry report in January said gas extraction may cause earthquakes of between 4 and 5 on the Richter scale, not up to 3.9 as earlier thought.

Local activist group De Groninger Bodem Beweging said it disagreed with the preliminary findings, arguing that many houses have become unsellable because of the quakes.

‘That might not be the same as a drop in value but that is what we have to deal with,’ spokeswoman Daniella Blanken told Nos television. ‘Many people feel they have become prisoners in their homes. They can’t move.’

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