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Societal impact of gas extraction in Groningen: state of knowledge

Diminishing quality of life? Stress, fear, anger, frustration, insecurity and mistrust? Too many different authorities? The Knowledge Platform gathers data and research on the impact of gas extraction in Groningen and takes stock of the situation. What is the current state of affairs regarding available knowledge? Below an overview of our knowledge overview, grouped in six themes.
1. Authorities, governance and communication

What do we know? 

There is quite some mistrust towards the NAM, Dutch government and various authorities dealing with damages and reinforcement. This is a consequence of prolonged procedures, complicated measures and too many involved organizations – the latter also known as the ‘governance spaghetti’. For both inhabitants of the earthquake region and the various authorities involved this spaghetti proves to be a significant difficulty. Communication is very important in these matters, on this all agree, but inhabitants find that the communication with institutions is insufficient. How the safety of the people is dealt with is unclear to many. In addition, inhabitants of the earthquake region find that although there is a lot of talk about them, there is not enough talk with them.

What don’t we know?

There are many challenges to be overcome in governance and communication, and only the viewpoint of the citizens has properly been examined. There has been little research on actual governance and policy. The same goes for the way in which various authorities accommodate one another. The influence of media have also not been sufficiently examined.

2. Feelings, safety and trust

What do we know?

The earthquakes are cause for plenty of negativity. People with damage to their homes or businesses feel unsafe, can feel frightened, and powerless. Financial problems arise. There are various causes for these issues. The process of claim settlement is slow and tedious, and many things are unclear, such as the processes of reinforcement. Frustration also stems from unclear or lack of communication with the government or authorities. There is little trust in the national government and various authorities. People feel that they are not taken seriously and that they are not properly heard.

Because of the various issues there is a slight increase in solidarity between people in the earthquake region. People also have a hope that the problems might increase the amount of available jobs in the region.

What don’t we know?

Plenty of research has been and is being done on people’s experiences in the region. International literature on disaster and people’s response to it often mentions ‘resilience’. In the Groninger dossier, resilience has not yet been properly studied. Further research on how the Groninger people prepare for new earthquakes and their consequences is also desired.

3. Housing market and economic development

Wat do we know?

The economic consequences of the gas extraction are mixed. The housing market has been disturbed. It has become more difficult to sell properties and the value of these properties has dropped. Municipalities and citizens have extra costs which are not always compensated – they have more unforeseen expenses, and tenants need to pay more rent because of required improvements to their homes. In contrast, various sectors have seen a surge in available job positions, and some people have found jobs due to the earthquake problems in the province. Inhabitants of the earthquake regions hope that there will be proper investments in the economic development. The Nationaal Programma Groningen (National Programme Groningen) has been granted funds to make that hope a reality.

What don’t we know?

There is a lack of research into the influence of the gas extraction on the labour market and vigour in the region. The influence of the seismic activity on household economics is largely unknown. How the various costs and benefits are distributed is also unclear.

4. Surroundings and liveability

What do we know?

Most people live in Groningen with pleasure and satisfaction. But this quality of life in the earthquake zone is slightly lower than in other parts of Groningen. Residents experience a great deal of nuisance from gas extraction, but they want to continue living in the area. Residents would therefore like to invest in the area and would prefer to spend this on alternative energy, making buildings more sustainable, keeping facilities immediate, promoting employment and making buildings earthquake-resistant.

What don’t we know?

Little is known about how the region can be developed and given a positive boost. Groningen offers unique opportunities for sustainable energy and innovation.

5. Culture, identity and image

What do we know?

Groningers are proud of their province: they like living there. Therefore it is regrettable that the gas extraction negatively influences the province’s image. There are plenty of worries about cultural heritage. In many people’s eyes, the gas extraction negatively influences cultural identity, the environment and inhabitants’ lives. There are, however, few hard facts on how this negative influence occurs.

What don’t we know?

Little is known about the influence the gas extraction has on the province’s image and the identity of its inhabitants. It would be useful to understand how people’s connectedness to Groningen relates to population and other societal decline in the region.

6. Health and well-being

What do we know?

Damage and earthquakes have a negative effect on public health. The more damaged people’s homes are, the higher the chance that they will end up with health issues like stress, sombreness or anxiety. Experiencing earthquakes also leads to an increase in stress. Furthermore, people may experience burn-outs as a consequence of the pressure placed on them with claim settlement and reinforcement procedures.

What don't we know?

Although a lot is already known about the short term impact that the gas extraction situation has on health, the consequences on the long term are unclear. It is also unknown how many, and how, youth and children are affected.

A large number of articles and official reports have been utilized in our knowledge overview. You will find a complete list of them in the reference list of the knowledge overview 2018. Are things still unclear after reading the knowledge overview or you have a broader interest in specific articles? Please feel free to contact us via email

Knowledge agenda 2019 (in Dutch)

The above ‘what don't we know?’ findings from the knowledge overview form the basis for our yearly updated knowledge agenda. This agenda provides an overview of the most important issues to be addressed regarding the societal impact of the gas extraction and earthquakes in Groningen. This provides governments and institutions directions to execute and stimulate future research.  

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