English

Groninger Bodem Beweging​

Who we are

The Groninger Bodem Beweging (Translated it means ‘the movement of earth or ground in Groningen’) is an association aiming to defend the interests of people who are directly or indirectly affected by gas extraction in the gas field in Groningen.​ The GBB has approximately 4,000 members and was founded on November 6, 2009. In 2019 we had our 10th anniversary and – alas –  we are still needed!

What we represent

In the past years we have been fighting for:

  • Security for all residents​; 
  • Fair and generous compensation for all direct damage caused by gas extraction;
  • Compensation for additional material damage​;
  • Compensation for non-material damage​;
  • The preservation of our cultural and historical heritage;​ 
  • A new outlook for the region​.

What we believe

We strongly believe that the residents of the province of Groningen are being wronged. To back up this statement, we have a list of several statements and facts:

  • In Groningen, we have GASquakes instead of EARTHquakes. 
  • More than a hundred people could die in a major quake.  
  • Around 150,000 people (including children) suffer from severe damage​ to their properties. 
  • An estimated 10,000 people in Groningen have health problems due to fear of the earthquakes and/or the dramatic bureaucracy that follows when you claim damage. 
  • More than 2,000 addresses are threatened with demolition​, because of the high costs of repair or consolidation. 
  • In Groningen, we have 1,200 buildings belonging to our national heritage, of which 90% are damaged​. 
  • In the area of the quakes, there are 101 schools and 9 have already been demolished​. Many schools have to be rebuilt. 
  • Property value has decreased on average by 3 % for 90,000 houses.

The occurrence of induced (man-made) earthquakes was known and admitted by the authorities at the beginning of the nineties. Shortly after the largest earthquake on 17 August 2012, the State Supervisor of Mining advised reducing gas extraction to 12 billion cubic meters per year. Instead, the government raised the gas extraction levels. Only court decisions brought down the amounts extracted. Still, more heavy earthquakes followed before the government in 2018 finally decided to end gas extraction at the latest in 2030.

At the same slow pace, vulnerable, brick stone-built houses are being strengthened. 26,000 houses of a total of around 100.000 are potentially unsafe when a severe earthquake happens. Yet, after five years, only some 1,000 have been strengthened or demolished and rebuilt.

Our demands

First and foremost the gas extraction must be ended as soon as possible! Furthermore, we want unsafe houses to be strengthened, damage to be compensated, the physical and mental health of the Groningers to be taken seriously, enable people who want to leave the area to sell their houses for a fair price, and, last but not least, accountability for those who were responsible.

More specific:

Strengthening buildings

  • In Groningen, we want to live as safely as in the rest of the Netherlands​.
  • All houses need to be inspected for safety, not only the few​ that result from a risk modeling application!
  • The theoretical model for assessing whether a house is safe is not adequate. 
  • The regional authorities have to be leading in the reinforcement operation​.
  • The owner has to have the final say​ in what measures are to be taken in his home.
  • The village or neighborhood must participate in a dialogue on area-specific reinforcement measures​.
  • Everyone is entitled to an inspection of their home if desired​!

Claim handling​

  • Claim handling must be in public hands. There has to be no interference whatsoever by Shell / Exxon Mobil!​
  • Owners do not have to prove that damage was inducted by the earthquakes. [The legal presumption of evidence applies]​
  • The owners have to get full compensation for direct and additional damage, whether material or immaterial​.
  • Owners are entitled to reimbursement of the decrease in value of the real estate​.
  • A good arrangement has to be made for compensating nuisance ​
  • Entitlement to an independent expert in the case of disagreement over the decision of the organization assessing the damage​.

Health

Different studies show that the health of Groningers, in general, has been affected by the insecurity and uncertainty due to the earthquakes and their effects. This has a great impact on daily life. We want these scientific recommendations to be translated into effective measures. Adequate help and money have to be furnished by the central government.

Buy-out arrangement​

Arrangements have to be made for residents who want to leave the area but suffer great financial damage when selling their houses. A fair buy-out system has to be set up. 

Accountability

Shell / Exxon Mobil and politicians are responsible for the hazardous situation of the people in Groningen today. The recently started parliamentary inquiry has to produce the most complete picture about the entire history of gas extraction and the decisions made during the past six decades that led to the current situation.

The GBB achieves this

  • Starting a legal procedure, like the lawsuit against the NAM
  • Organizing torchlight hikes and other movements
  • Deliberating with local and national governments
  • Creating media attention for our point of view, mistreatment, and bad or inadequate policies
  • Lobbying with politicians

The GBB believes in a combination of consultation, action, and cooperation. We work with several parties, like Milieudefensie, Waddenvereniging, Nationale Milieufederatie, the Groninger Gas council, Green Front, Code Red, local governments, University of Groningen, the Homeowner Association, Hanzehogeschool en local action groups.

Also, we consult with the authorities that play a role in earthquake problems such as the National Coordinator Groningen, the Institute Mining damage Groningen, the Technical Commission Soil Movement, de Nationale Ombudsman, and the minister of Economic affairs. We also consult with the gas extraction file holders in the House of Representatives.

What we have achieved

One of our goals was to be heard! In the past ten years, we made it clear, nationally and internationally​, that there is a crisis in slow motion going on in Groningen. We have achieved that Groningen is featured in the media regularly. 

  • Also, our problem has been heard and our situation was picked up in the House of Representatives: The members of Parliament debated on Groningen more than 40 times​. 
  • In 2018, the UN Committee on Human Rights urged the Netherlands to respect the human rights of the people of Groningen and in 2019 the Dutch government was rebuked again​! 
  • We now know that the gas extraction goes to zero in 2023​. 
  • At the beginning of 2021, a parliamentary inquiry started. 
  • Shell has been locked out of handling the damage claims and the reinforcement operation. 
  • A fund was provided to finance projects for a better future for Groningen (National Program Groningen)​. 
  • A real estate value decrease compensation scheme was prepared​ and implemented. 
  • Soon to be followed by regulation for the compensation of immaterial damage for adults and minors.

What does it take?​

To achieve what we want, we need the support of a lot of people!​ All Groningers!!! With the support of a growing number of people, we grow bigger. And when we do, we gain more counterpower and more work can be done. 

We do this to achieve a Groningen where it ​is safe to live and work and where we can build a future for ​our children​!

Related parties

Recht voor Groningen; The board members of the Groninger Bodem Beweging are also board members of the NGO “Recht voor Groningen” (Justice for Groningen)​.

Stut-en-Steun; The board members of the Groninger Bodem Beweging are also board members of the NGO “Stut-en-Steun” (Support for victims).