Groningen receives additional 13.5 billion euros for damage, reinforcements and ‘honor debt’

The cabinet is taking a comprehensive package of measures to cover the “honor debt” to Groningen and North Drenthe. In total, more than 22 billion euros were provided to solve gas production problems. Of that, 8.7 billion is for existing plans and 13.5 billion for “new money”. Costs are paid annually in a “State of Groningen”.

Firstly, 250 million Euros will be invested annually for 30 years for the sustainability, quality of life and economic prospects of the earthquake area. This is part of the amount of “honor debt” that the parliamentary investigative committee on gas production in Groningen discussed at the end of February. Members of the European Parliament noted that the interests of the people of Groningen are systematically disregarded and that financial gains systematically come before the interests of the people of Groningen.

Minister of State for Mines Hans Vijlbrief and Prime Minister Mark Rutte presented their answers to the parliamentary question in the village of Groningen in Garmerwolde. Rutte said the cabinet accepted “unconditionally” the conclusions of the investigative committee.

Rutte pointed out that the debt of honor to Groningen must be repaid:

The Prime Minister once again apologized on behalf of the cabinet for the mistakes made and the decades-long “exposure” of people in the earthquake zone. He explained that the damage done by sixty years of gas production cannot be repaired with the stroke of a pen, fully understanding the skepticism and distrust of the people of Groningen. “We’re going to have to show that first and foremost.”

In an emotional letter to Vijl, it was said that the cabinet wanted to do everything possible: “We can and will fix the damage done to your homes. As for psychological damage, it’s harder.” He admitted once again that he was ashamed of what the state had caused. According to him, “generations in the earthquake zone were severely understaffed.” “We can’t give them ten years of their life back.” Vijlbrief, visibly concerned, said the cabinet must “do what is necessary”:

Among other things, Groningen is in the “21st Century,” where the focus should be on the sustainable production of healthy food. It will be developed with the help of investments made in the “agricultural region of the century”. In addition, money is invested, for example, for specialized training and the establishment of “health houses” where people can both prevent and treat.

Less burden of proof for damages

A total of 50 measures are taken. Among other things, this includes expanding the area, where residents do not have to prove that they were harmed by the outgassing. In case of damages below 40.000 Euro, no cause investigation is carried out; will be refunded in any case.

From now on, roads, neighborhoods and villages will be thawed as much as possible in one go, so as not to damage a house and not the neighbors. To the dismay of many Groningen residents, this is still often the case.

In addition, “earthquake cars” are deployed in all participating municipalities to assist with problems. Efforts are also being made to reduce employment and dropout rates to the national average within thirty years.

Sufficient?

The cabinet promises that there will be “enough money as long as necessary to ensure that any damage is repaired and that everyone has a safe home.” It assumes that more than 22 billion euros will be enough to realize all the plans. In total, approximately 7.5 billion was set aside for investments, the honor debt portion, the remaining amount for compensation and housing retrofit.

One law requires the government to report annually on the use of funds. This will take place in a “State of Groningen” modeled after the State of the Union in the United States. In addition, a progress meeting is held every six months in the province.

It was leaked last week that the cabinet will allocate more than 20 billion. Regional managers of the period said that 30 billion liras was needed for investments. This does not include damage and repair costs estimated at 5 to 10 billion. King’s Commissioner, René Paas, spoke of a “big gap” between the wishes and the proposal.

Source: NOS

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