Saturday 18 September 2021

Fewer Groningen homes at risk of earthquake damage

A condemned and shored-up cafe in Zeerijp. Photo: Graham Dockery

Some 1,500 homes in earthquake-hit parts of Groningen will need to be strengthened despite the government’s pledge to end gas production by 2030.

Economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes commissioned a study by the national mining council into how many homes were still at risk of being damaged. Earlier surveys indicated that the government’s decision to phase out gas production over the next 12 years meant fewer buildings would be at risk.

A further 5,700 homes are classed as high risk but ‘within the strict safety level’, while another 2,200 houses are deemed no longer at risk, but have already been earmarked for renovation. Owners of these properties will be given the choice of reinforcing or demolishing them.

Wiebes angered some Groningen residents in the spring when he put a temporary stop to the renovation process to allow the study to be carried out. On Monday he pledged to implement the findings of the mining council.

The National Co-ordinator for Groningen has said that at least 3,000 buildings in the province are not earthquake resistant, based on figures provided by the weather bureau KNMI and the gas exploitation venture NAM.

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