1.5 billion is going to the earthquake area in Groningen. The Cabinet and the Province have reached an agreement on the handling of the very laborious reinforcement operation in the gas extraction area, as it was known this morning. “The reinforcement continues as long as it is necessary. This is also not a payoff,” says King‘s Commissioner René Easter.
It is confirmed by Minister Wiebes for Economic Affairs. Yet the Groninger Soil Movement is not comfortable. According to the interest organisation, there is still too much uncertainty about the security of Groningen to come up with what they call a closing arrangement.
Now that the end of gas extraction is in sight, Groningen receives the billions of dollars, partly as a plaster on the wound for years of uncertainty about the future of the houses. But also to speed up the reinforcement of houses and make them more sustainable.
Many people have waited years for strengthening their homes, which have become unstable due to 60 years of gas extraction. They are now also given the opportunity to refrain from strengthening their homes and to settle for a sum of money.
In addition, money also goes to people whose houses do not need to be strengthened, but who do live in the area. For example, tenants get a one-off amount of 750 euros. People who are still waiting for an inspection or advice receive 17,000 euros for home improvement.
Less gas extraction
Inspection of at least 26,000 houses is necessary to check whether they remain standing in the event of a severe quake. In 2013, the year after the heaviest earthquake to date, gas extraction company NAM recovered 54 billion cubic cubic gas from the Groningen field. Next year, that’s only 8 billion. And from 2022, gas extraction almost completely stops.
Due to the State Supervision of the Mines, the maximum gravity of a quake that can hit Groningen is now estimated at 3.9. Previously, that was 5, so much more. After stopping the gas extraction, there will still be earthquakes in Groningen, but the expectation is much less heavy. As a result, over the years there are different standards to calculate when a house is safe.
Homeowners who were the first to turn were told that their house had to be demolished, but that was based on standards that have now become obsolete. For neighbors who were not until later, the assessment turned out quite differently.
Still not all houses have been judged for their safety. The reinforcement operation is also very slow. To date, only about 1000 houses have been reinforced.
Not yet secure
The Groninger Soil Movement (GBB) notes that although the reinforcement operation has barely started, the completion is already under way. The GBB believes that the homes are declared safe far too early, because the risk of a major earthquake is still present.
President Jelle van der Knoop of the GBB calls the agreement ‘partly an austerity agreement’. The offer to residents to refrain from reinforcement for a fee provides the Cabinet and the NAM a lot of money, he says “The strengthening of a dwelling costs an average of 200,000 euros. Then 30,000 euros will be a low sum to refurbish and make a house more sustainable,” said the president of the interest association.
It has not yet been announced from when people are eligible for the money amounts. It is also not yet clear which authority they can turn to.