The Dutch Council of State determined on Thursday that economics minister Eric Wiebes can move forward with gas extraction plans just outside of Smallingerland in Friesland.
Translation by Traci White
According to Omrop Fryslan, the municipality is opposed to the plans and did not want to be involved with any gas drilling. The Leeuwarder Courant reports that the Smallingerland representatives failed to inform the minister about local plans to ban gas extraction in the area: the municipality reportedly did not believe they needed to inform the minister because they did not see the decision as a matter of national interest.
Smallingerland unanimously forbid gas extraction activities in a zoning plan last year, but minister Wiebes evidently thought otherwise: the economics minister says that the Frisian municipality’s decision went against national law and says that as a concerned party, he should have been informed. Wiebes challenged the decision in the Council of State, and the judges in the council will issue a formal ruling in six weeks.
Political parties and groups representing towns across Friesland have teamed up to oppose more gas extraction, including fracking, in recent months. The municipality of Smallingerland, which includes the city of Drachten and has a population of around 55,000 people, began exploring legal options to oppose gas extraction in 2017.