Groningen protest planned after earthquake-proofing subsidies ran out in a day
The Groningen Soil Movement (GBB) wants to again draw attention to problems caused by gas extraction in the province with new protest action. The action group announced the protest with SP parliamentarian Sandra Beckerman and former night mayor Chris Garrit a day after a subsidy fund for improving the quality of homes in the fracking earthquake zone ran out in one day.
The protest is planned for Saturday in the city center of Groningen, RTV Noord reports. Though it is not yet clear what the protest will entail exactly. The rally is also in response to the outgoing Cabinet announcing last week that gas extraction in the province would likely be doubled this year.
The subsidy ceiling of 220.8 million euros for strengthening and making homes in the Groningen gas extraction area more sustainable was reached within a day. The SNN, which handles the applications from Groningen locals on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs, announced this. Monday was an "unprecedented day with a real rush of applications," said director Marjan Dol. The counter closed when the ceiling was reached.
The applications were processed according to the "first come, first served" principle, said Dol. According to her, it is, therefore, a "logical consequence" that long queues arose immediately upon opening at 9:00 a.m., both online and at physical counters. "50,000 people wanted to log in at the same time digitally," said Dol Lines also formed outside municipal offices, but according to the director, they were cleared around noon. Over 2,600 applications were received at the ten physical counters on Monday.
It was not yet known how many digital applications had been submitted when the subsidy ceiling was reached. Because of the waiting times, not everyone could be helped in time - around midnight, the online waiting time was over 100 minutes - so not everyone's application for the 10,000 euros subsidy will be processed. A consequence of a budget that is too small said Dol. "For the 53,000 addresses eligible for the subsidy, there should be a budget of 530 million euros," she said.
Responsible State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief said that if the subsidy to improve the quality of homes in the earthquake zone "threatens to be exceeded, we will simply look at it." According to Vijlbrief, the great enthusiasm is "a good sign" that shows the scheme is popular. It will take months before it is clear to what extent the subsidy will actually be awarded. "That, of course, depends on whether all those people are entitled to it," said the State Secretary.
The SNN will inform Groningen residents about the processing of their applications within 13 weeks.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.