Wednesday 05 October 2022

Couple paint house bright pink in protest at ‘Groningen gas damage’

Image: Steven Radersma, RTV Noord, via Twitter

A Dutch couple in east Groningen who have been refused compensation for damage they believe is linked to gas extraction have painted their listed building pink in protest, reports RTV Noord.

Boelo ten Have and Annemarie Nijhoff, part of the sixth generation of a family to live in a 157-year-old farmhouse in Drieborg, are facing repairs of some €500,000 due to damage they believe was caused by Groningen gas.

The foundation of the building needs replacing, and the couple says that the building’s wooden piles have rotted due to a drop in the local groundwater level linked with gas exploitation. The house now has serious cracks and subsidence, but they say they are not entitled to government help because their property is outside the official earthquake region.

‘We have gone everywhere: the Centrum Veilig Wonen, IMG, the national coordinator, Libau, Monumentenzorg, the list goes on,’ Boelo ten Have told RTV Noord. ‘Everyone feels for us, but the bottom line is that nobody feels responsible. We are tearing our hair out.’

After 10 years of fighting for help, to draw attention to their lot, the couple have painted the house garish pink – defying strict planning rules. They have asked to demolish the farmhouse and build themselves a new home but permission has been denied because it is a grade A listed building, or rijksmonument.

They timed their action to coincide with a parliamentary enquiry into what has gone wrong in Groningen, which has restarted this week. Decades of gas extraction have caused hundreds of earthquakes but government compensation for damage to homes is long overdue for some, and much has been spent on specialist reports.

‘We call on other people with damage to paint some of their home pink,’ Nijhoff said. ‘It is a way to show that on the outside things look rosy, but inside there are a lot of problems.’

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