Gas extraction company NAM must compensate home owners in Groningen for the loss of value to their homes because of the earthquakes, whether or not they are up for sale, a court in Assen ruled on Wednesday.
The court said NAM, a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and ExxonMobil, is responsible for the earthquakes and is therefore liable for the damage. The quakes are caused by the ground settling after the gas has been extracted.
Local home owners, united in the WAG foundation, say 100,000 homes have been hit by the quake risk and are now worth over €1bn less than they should be. The foundation represents 12 housing corporations and some 900 private owners.
NAM does pay compensation for visible earthquake damage and accepts house prices have gone down because of the quake risk. However, the company has refused until now to compensation home owners for intangible damage ahead of a sale.
The court said the actual drop in values would need to be established at separate hearings and that it estimated property prices have fallen by several percentage points. WAG puts the drop at between 5% and 25%.
‘This is fantastic news,’ WAG’s lawyer Pieter Huitema told news agency ANP. ‘This is a major support to people living in the quake region.’
NAM can appeal against the ruling at the High Court in The Hague and the company said it is now considering what steps to take next.
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