Groningen expects a plan of action from the cabinet no later than September to finally repay its “debt of honor” to the region which has suffered enormous losses in recent decades due to earthquakes. Much more money and political attention from The Hague is needed for at least another 25 years to get the province back on its feet, a joint statement by all municipal and provincial leaders, mayors, aldermen and water board administrators says. Politicians from across the spectrum united in Delfzijl yesterday to demand that The Hague take urgent action.
Unified stance on negotiations with The Hague
The earthquake issue has generated a tide of cross-party political consensus around the urgent need to do more to compensate Groningen for the damage wrought by years of gas drilling. The Hague must invest much more in the province than in recent years, the letter sent the second chamber yesterday says.
The wish list contains mainly general principles. More specific demands will be formulated during the upcoming negotiations with The Hague. Groningen is betting on a “very substantial” new support package. The statement speaks of billions, and reportedly the province will not want to be satisfied with just a few billion euros.
- Compensate for all the damage and suffering inflicted on our residents
- Invest in our communities, neighborhoods and villages
- Invest in safe living and broad prosperity for future generations
- Give direction and confidence to our residents
- Listen to and work together with the residents of Groningen, the local government, business owners, and civil society groups
Following the damning report issued by the parliamentary committee of inquiry that blamed the government and energy companies for ignoring the risks of gas production in Groningen, the statement expresses belief that the cabinet and parliament owe a debt to Groningers.
Groningers demand speedy action and ‘fair procedures’
The Groningen administrators are demanding, among many other things, “an accelerated pace of damage repair and reinforcement.” The endless legal wrangling over earthquake damage must stop, they say. There should be “fair procedures” in place so that thousands of affected Groningers know where they stand.
The suffering inflicted on the people by many decades of gas extraction, earthquakes and inconsistent damage repair and home reinforcement must be amply compensated. In addition, the government should make substantial investment in towns, villages, and neighborhoods.
Groningen’s politicians remain confident that a fruitful dialogue with the state is possible, especially considering the parliamentary commission’s conclusion that gas extraction in the province has constituted an “unprecedented system failure” and that the government has failed in its duties.