The Canadian gas company Vermilion will not be permitted to open new extraction locations in the Frisian town of Noordwolde for the foreseeable future due to potential risks to the nearby Drents-Fries Wold national park.
Translation by Traci White
Omrop Fryslan reports that the ministry made the call after environmental interest group Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) submitted an enforcement request. The group was concerned that the Canadian company had not carried out a proper analysis of how much nitrogen would be released, which would be in violation of European law.
Vermillion had reportedly planned to start extraction in Noordwolde in order to access gas in De Hoeve, which is near the Drents-Friese Wold national park and the Leggelderveld nature reserve in Drenthe. The company had previously asserted that their operations would not lead to any increased nitrogen emissions, but Alie Eiting of Milieudefensie told Omrop Fryslan that the company could not definitely make that assurance.
Following an emergency session, the agricultural ministry issued a formal warning against Vermilion for potentially violating the law. The ministry concluded that possible damage to the Natura 2000 landscape due to the company’s operations could not be ruled out, and the Canadian company may also be fined.
In May of 2019, the administrative jurisdiction division of the Dutch Council of State deemed that Dutch methods for handling nitrogen emissions were in violation of European law, which would have made it possible to knowingly release nitrogen in Natura 2000 areas. This decision from the agricultural industry regarding Vermilion’s operations in the Frisian-drents border region is the first one to impact a gas extraction company.
Editorial note: The headline of this story has been updated to reflect that extraction has not been banned, but that a warning has been issued. The English version of Milieudefensie’s name has also been added.