Monday 17 January 2022

Cabinet increases funding for Groningen earthquake victims after chaos

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The cabinet has agreed to allocate an extra €250m to improve homes in parts of Groningen affected by earthquakes after the initial €220m fund ran dry on the first day following a flood of applications.

Long queues formed in towns and villages in the northern province on Monday at council offices where people could claim up to €10,000 per household for renovations.

Hans Vijlbrief, the junior minister charged with sorting out the Groningen gas problems, told MPs on Friday that the new allocation of cash will allow everyone entitled to the grant to make a claim.

‘I really regret the way things have gone and said on Monday that I would do my best to solve it,’ Vijlbrief said.

The money is intended to help people in the northern province improve their homes, many of which have been damaged by earth movements caused by 50 years of gas extraction in the Slochteren gas field.

Production is being wound down in the northern province, but last week residents were hit with a fresh blow when the government said it needed to extract 7.6 billion cubic metres in 2022, twice as much as expected.

Exports

Much of extra gas will be exported to Germany, where around five million homes are connected to the Groningen gas grid, after measures to improve energy efficiency across the border fell short of expectations.

Groningen’s provincial assembly has urged the government to reverse a decision to double the amount of gas produced in 2022.

The king’s commissioner for Groningen, René Paas, has also apologised for the handling of the subsidy scheme and said he was considering taking the government to court if it pressed ahead with more gas production.

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