Groningen towns take earthquake debate to Council of State

21 Groningen municipalities are appealing to the Council of State against Minister Henk Kamp's (Economic Affairs, VVD) gas extraction decision, NRC reports.

The mayors and aldermen of the involved municipalities argue that the safety of the residents of the province was not taken sufficiently into account when the decision on gas extraction was made. They also say that the "precautionary principle" was insufficiently applied. The precautionary principle is an established European principle stating that government measures must not lead to unreasonable risks or irreparable damage.

The gas extraction for 2015 is capped at 39.4 billion cubic meters for the year. Up until July the gas extraction has been limited to 16.5 billion cubic meters. The Groningen municipalities want the 39.4 billion cubic meters cap to reduced so that there is a decrease in the risk of earthquakes.

Following a critical report by the Safety Board, Minister Henk Kamp offered his apologies to the residents of Groningen. He admitted that too little attention was paid to the safety of Groningen residents when making gas decisions in the past. Despite these apologies, Kamp will only make a decision on further restricting the gas extraction in Groningen in July.