Cabinet to follow Groningen gas safety recommendations

Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs wants to win back the trust of the Groningen residence after the damage and earthquakes caused by gas extraction. And he will do so by following the recommendations of the Safety Board.

This is according to a letter Kamp wrote to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, yesterday. He writes that the Cabinet "recognizes and deeply regrets that too little attention was paid to the safety of Groningen residents in the past". The Safety Board's recommendations must lead to safety interests being more important in decision making and residents being more involved. "The safety is now paramount and the government will do everything possible to ensure a safe and pleasant living-, home and work environment for the inhabitants of Groningen."

A number of laws and regulations will be changing. It will now be possible to reject permits for drilling and gas extraction if they do not comply with environmental and groundwater plans. The independence of supervisory body State Supervision of Mines will be established in law. And mining companies have to extensively map safety risks. Minister Kamp stresses that these measures are in addition to the safety measures already in effect in Groningen, such as the reduction in gas extraction and strengthening of homes and buildings.

Minister Kamp also wants to open a dialogue with the Groningen inhabitants "to speak with residents about their problems and to see how measures progress around strengthening homes and improving the quality of life in the region". Citizens, municipalities and provinces will also have more say in the decision making around gas extraction in their regions, but the decision making power remains with a single body. "One body must make the decision and take accountability for it. But that does not meant that governments and citizens can not be better involved." Kamp writes.

Minister Kamp will elaborate further on the proposed measures and then send the legislative amendments to the Tweede Kamer.