A majority of MPs oppose the government’s decision to sanction test drilling for gas in a nature reserve near the Wadden Sea island of Schiermonnikoog, broadcaster Nos said on Wednesday.
Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp has given the green light to plans to drill for natural gas even though one of the test drills will take place within a protected nature reserve, 5.4 kilometres north of the tiny island.
The applications have been made by a company named Engie E&P, which aims to run the first test drilling in the winter of 2017/2018. If successful, it plans a second test drilling the following year.
Kamp said last year he is keen to encourage gas companies to extract more gas from under the North Sea to reduce Dutch dependence on Russia. He has also said he is powerless to reject the application by Engie E&P.
New legislation on mining currently going through parliament will allow applications in nature reserves to be rejected.
The minister will discuss the drilling plans with parliament next week.
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