Hans Alders, the National Coordinator Groningen, announced on Wednesday he would be stepping down because he strongly disagrees with recent decisions by Dutch economic minister Eric Wiebes.
Translation by Traci White
The National Coordinator Groningen is the name for a collaboration among ten Groningen municipalities impacted by induced earthquakes, the province of Groningen and the Dutch Central Government. Until yesterday, Hans Alders was the lynchpin in the local and national initiative.
The Groninger Internet Courant reports that in a letter, Alders wrote that he felt he could no longer carry out his duties. Wiebes recently decided to stop issuing damage reinforcement assessments for 1,600 homes impacted by persistent quakes.
In the letter addressed to Wiebes, which was published on Wednesday, Alders said he felt that Wiebes’ decision goes against promises that Alders himself made to the residents of the region. “How can I restore their trust if I can’t make good on my word?” he wrote. “That brings my integrity into question.”
Recent talks between the local and national levels broke down following Wiebes’ decision. Alders’ departure casts further doubt over the immediate future of the earthquake-prone municipalities.
Alderperson Eelco Eikenaar says that Alders was effectively stuck between a rock and a hard place, but his departure is still a “dramatic decision.” Eikenaar says that he plans to get together with the regional powers-that-be to discuss what to do next.
“Alders stepping down should serve as a warning to The Hague”, says Derwin Schorren, a member of the Groninger Bodem Beweging group. “Wiebes made it impossible for Alders to do his job.” Schorren says that he understands why Alders left his post, but he says that it is “a huge loss” for the region.
Susan Top, a member of the Groninger Gasberaad, says that Alders was truly the person who made sure that the interests of the region were represented on the national level. “It’s entirely possible that the minister will now appoint someone who will just enforce what Wiebes wants without any consultation with the locals. That would really mean that Groningen is screwed.”