Municipalities could force neighborhoods off gas network in new bill
A new bill will allow municipalities to force neighborhoods to leave the natural gas network, even if some residents are against it. Minister Hugo de Jonge of Housing is working on the bill, which he wants to take effect on 1 January 2024, RTL Nieuws reports.
The Cabinet believes the law is necessary to achieve the goals of the Climate Agreement. By 2030, 1.5 million existing homes and buildings must be off the gas network. By 2050, 7.5 million exiting homes and 1 million other buildings must be gas-free.
But removing existing homes from the gas network is proving to be difficult, according to experiments the 40 largest municipalities have been running since 2018. Early last year, the municipalities raised concerns about this in a letter to parliament. The "voluntary approach" - that all residents must agree before a neighborhood can be cut off - was one of the main issues.
According to the municipalities, they must be able to cut off an entire district or neighborhood at a time instead of individual buildings. Because otherwise, they'll have to keep maintaining the gas network for the residents who refused to be cut off.
The Municipal Instruments for the Heat Transition Act should make it possible for municipalities to designate districts or neighborhoods to "switch to a sustainable energy supply." Eight years after the destination, the district or neighborhood will be cut off from the gas network. A spokesperson for Minister De Jonge could not tell RTL when he would submit the bill to parliament.
In a committee debate earlier this month, some MPs criticized the use of force in the energy transition. But De Jonge rejected the criticism. "Of course, you start on the side of the good conversation, subsidizing, enthusing, motivating, etcetera. But suppose you don't say anywhere that things must be done in year X. Do you think it will actually happen?"