King’s Commissioner in Groningen speaks out on earthquakes

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In an interview with De Volkskrant, René Paas, the King’s Commissioner in Groningen, has expressed his concerns about the lack of concrete plans to address earthquake-induced damage in the province.

Translation by Traci White

The Groninger Internet Courant reports that Paas’ remarks, published one day before the King’s annual Prinsjesdag speech, convey frustration over the absence of a clear strategy to evaluate and pay out damage claims. In De Volkskrant, Paas says that it seems as if politicians in The Hague are satisfied with the announcement made earlier this year that gas extraction operations would end altogether in Groningen by 2030, despite no concrete plans for the province.

Tuesday the 18th of September is , which is the day each year that the Dutch monarch gives a speech to the Dutch chambers of government about policy priorities. “I don’t want to hear another speech from the throne for the third year in a row that includes a sympathetic line about Groningen, only to be followed by another year of political inaction”, Paas told De Volkskrant.

Bureaucracy

Each province of the Netherlands has a Commissioner who is appointed by the King, and the commissioners serve as representatives of the federal government. Paas has been the King’s Commissioner in Groningen since April of 2016 – the term to serve as a commissioner is six years, after which he or she can be re-appointed for a second term.

The King’s Commissioner in Groningen aired his impatience with the bureaucracy that shrouds the process of handling damage claims. Paas says that only 150 claims out of more than 20,000 have been handled by the new Temporary Commission for Mining Damage (Tijdelijke Commissie Mijnbouwschade) thus far.

Paas is calling on the current Rutte cabinet to come up with a plan for the future of the province which looks well beyond the planned deadline of 2030 for gas extraction operations to formally end. During the speech on Tuesday, the cabinet is reportedly planning to announce a fund of 100 million euros for the province in response to the ongoing earthquake issues.

You can read De Volkskrant interview in its entirety (in Dutch) here.

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