Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte spent Wednesday night at a temporary housing facility in the municipality of Groningen as part of his visit to areas affected by earthquakes triggered by years of gas extraction.
The temporary housing facility hosts people who have to leave their earthquake-damaged homes until they are reinforced or rebuilt. Prior to his stay in Ten Boer, a small village northeast of the city of Groningen, Rutte spoke with the facility’s residents about their experiences. Rutte told reporters that his sleeping there “is of no use to Groningen residents” but said that his visit could help matters to be tackled more intelligently within the related policy areas. Rutte also said he has great respect for all the people in Groningen who are enduring the problems caused by the earthquakes.
The PM also posted a short video about his stay.
Voor veel Groningers in het aardbevingsgebied betekent het versterken van hun huis of het krijgen van een nieuwbouwhuis, dat zij tijdelijk moeten verhuizen naar een wisselwoning. De impact hiervan op hun leven is groot: verhuisstress, onzekerheid en vooral het gemis van hun… pic.twitter.com/oWd2a9oYxD
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) January 25, 2024
Dagblad van het Noorden reported that one local resident who had hung a poster of far-right leader Geert Wilders on his window said Rutte’s visit came far too late. The resident added that rather than spending a night at a temporary facility, he should have spent a couple of weeks in an unsafe house with cracks and beams on the walls. “Only then does he really experience what it is like for us,” he said.
Earlier during the day, Rutte was in Appingedam for a closed-door meeting with support centre employees and administrators of the Institute for Mining Damage Groningen (IMG) and the National Coordinator for Groningen (NCG).
The IMG handles damage caused by gas extraction in Groningen and gas storage in the North. NCG helps to reinforce homes and other buildings in the Northern earthquake zone.
Gas extraction in Groningen has been paused since October, however national policy allows for the gas tap to be turned on in periods when the gas supply is low. A small amount of gas was extracted for two days this month during a particularly cold spell.