The Province is several steps ahead of the national government, in terms of public sentiment
By Thomas Ansell
Following the historic environmental court victory last week against Shell, more and more sections of Dutch society are gaining confidence in standing up for ecological issues. None more so than the Province of Groningen, which yesterday decided to officially take an anti-gas extraction position.
The Province’s decision will likely throw a (small) spanner in the works, as it was made following the submission of new extraction plans to the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate. The fact that for the Dutch government, both issues are contained in one department, gives an indication into how Mark Rutte’s various governments have approached the need to reduce emissions.
Previously, the Province had submitted a similar decision to the national government in 2017; in response to plans to extract gas from the North Sea around 20km to the north of Schiermonnikoog (the island is technically part of Friesland but lies off the Groninger coast). This means that the Province won’t agree to permits for extraction in its purview.
Deputy Tjeerd van Dekken (PvdA) says: “the position of the Province remains unchanged. The Deputies are strongly in favour of energy transition, and think that the focus must remain on producing clean and safe energy, as well as using less of it. Any new extraction from this gas field wouldn’t fit in with these plans. Gas extraction from this gas field has the potential to have a large [negative] impact on the Wadden region, and may not go ahead at the cost of people and animals in the area.”
The Province of Groningen now wants the Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate to give a definitive ‘no’ to further gas extraction in the Wadden Area.
Disgraced former minister Eric Wiebes seemed only too happy to grant permits for gas extraction in Groningen and Friesland during his tenure (he stepped down following the ‘Toeslagenaffaire’), and his temporary replacement Minister Stef Blok (VVD) may leave the decision to the next government.