Groningen earthquake damage claims should cost €5-10 billion more
Damage claims related to earthquakes caused by the extraction of natural gas in Groningen should be handled “more humanely and more easily,” said IMG, the institute that evaluates damage claims related to Dutch mining activities on behalf of the government. IMG came up with a package of new proposals to handle damage claims with more leniency, which will cost an extra 5 to 10 billion euros in the coming years, IMG said on Thursday.
The additional billions of euros should allow the institute to offer a solution “where the wishes of the people of Groningen are central.” The money is in addition to more than 1.6 billion euros previously allocated to victims of earthquakes as a result of gas extraction. This compensation is also separate from new damage caused by earthquakes.
One of the most striking proposals is to offer a fixed compensatory amount of 2,500 euros per earthquake. IMG also wants the compensation for minors to be brought into line with that of adults. The government must also offer victims a “broad range of facilities for psychosocial help.”
Furthermore, IMG also proposed to largely drop the burden of proof connected to residents’ damage claims. This means that victims do not have to demonstrate that every single crack in a wall is actually the result of an earthquake. Hans Houdijk, the director of the IMG, said, “We want to assume that what should be done according to the victims is really necessary. Of course there are limits to this, but we want to be generous in that.”
IMG has urged the government to make “sufficient financial resources” available for this revised plan. IMG also wants politicians to give the institute more legal options.
In the coming period, IMG will discuss the proposals with the government, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs, and other affected parties.
The institute has called on the government to make a quick decision. It is still unclear whether the proposals will speed up the handling of damage. Houdijk said that regardless, giving IMG more power will make it easier for the organization to handle damage claims.
Reporting by ANP