Wadden Islands plan to fight permit for North Sea gas drilling
The mayors of the Wadden Islands are considering their next steps now that the Cabinet issued a permit for gas drilling in the North Sea, said mayor Ineke Gent of Schiermonnikoog. "There is no support for these drillings," she said. "We are firmly against it."
State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief of Mining announced on Wednesday that he gave the go-ahead for drilling a new gas field. This will happen in collaboration with Germany about 19 kilometers above Schiermonnikoog and the German island of Borkum. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, the first gas will be produced from the end of 2024. But the Wadden Islands are concerned about the consequences for nature and for island residents.
Vijlbrief said an "extensive report" was drawn up on the environmental effects, which shows that all required conditions are met. But the State Secretary acknowledged that concerns remain. That is why he made some adjustments, including lowering the drilling rig so that it is less noticeable from Schiermonnikoog.
Van Gent is not reassured. The adjustment to lower the drilling rig so that it is less visible from Schiermonnikoog was also not well received. "That is all good and nice, but it does not solve the fundamental problems," said the mayor. "The vulnerability of the area is increasing. Gas may be extracted for many years to come, while we call for a switch to renewable energy and investing in the future instead of the past."
Van Gent said she hopes to start a political and social discussion about gas drilling. According to her, the islands have submitted several objections that haven't been settled yet. They also have contact with the German islands, many of which signed a letter to the Dutch government against gas extraction earlier this year. "The last word has not been spoken on this. We will not just accept it, and we're looking at what the possibilities are to stop this."