Prior to a parliamentary debate on Tuesday about gas extraction and earthquakes, economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes has called for a major overhaul of the current damage claim protocol: claims filed prior to 2019 should be paid 5,000 euros standard.
Translation by Traci White
The idea behind the policy change, which will impact damage claims filed to the TCMG (Tijdelijke Comissie Mijnbouwschade Groningen), is to quickly resolve up to 9,000 cases where no ruling has been made about the extent of the damage. RTV Noord reports that the damage compensation will consist of 4,000 for physical damage and 1,000 euros for associated expenses.
The Algemeen Dagblad writes that damage claimants can either be paid 5,000 euros outright or they can hire a contractor for up to 11,000 euros: the TCMG says that the vast majority of the damage claims cost less than 10,000 euros. Wiebe’s new offer comes a week after a 3.4 magnitude earthquake whose epicentre was in the Groningen town of Westerwijtwerd on the 22nd of May, which was one of the strongest recorded quakes in the region.
The new efforts are in response to ongoing criticism of how the victims of the natural gas-induced earthquakes are being strung along and not being adequately compensated. But in his letter to the parliament, Wiebes wrote that dialling down the gas extraction to less than 12 billion cubic meters a year would still be “an enormous challenge”.
According to the Groninger Internet Courant, the King’s Commissioner in Groningen, Rene Paas, is not satisfied that Wiebes’ latest efforts go far enough. Paas was heartened to hear that many damage claimants would receive a standard offer, but pointed out that unless those rules apply to all damage claims equally, they are still too arbitrary. Paas was also in favour of calls to reduce the amount of bureaucracy surrounding damage claims, but Paas’ main objection is the slow pace of reducing gas extraction itself. “You have to weigh supply security against the safety of the people of Groningen, and that is not yet happening.”