Insight into impact
The Knowledge Platform provides an annual overview of knowledge about the social consequences of gas extraction in the Northern Netherlands. In June 2018, the first knowledge overview Social consequences of soil movement in Groningen was published. In June 2020 we published an update of this knowledge overview: Gas extraction, earthquakes and social consequences for the province of Groningen and its residents.
Insight into impact: the consequences of gas extraction for the inhabitants of Groningen is an update and follow-up of these previous knowledge overviews. For this updated version, we have used the literature that was published between July 2019 and July 2020. Like the previous knowledge overviews, this overview is divided into six thematic chapters. Additionally, in a Reflection we review the developments related to gas extraction in Groningen, based on the findings of three knowledge overviews and insights from practice. The Summary provides an overview of the main findings per chapter. The chapters, the Summary and the Reflection can also be downloaded separately.
The knowledge overview is written in Dutch. An English translation of the Summary and the Reflection, including an introduction into the case of gas extraction in Groningen, is available too.
Reflection and photo section
In recent years, the Knowledge Platform has integrated more than 250 studies in 3 knowledge overviews. We had hundreds of conversations with residents and professionals. This enables us to have a comprehensive overview of the gas extraction file. In order to learn lessons from the gas extraction file, we are also exploring how mining policy can be structured differently so that there is a fair distribution between benefits and burdens for residents.
In this reflection, we indicate developments and patterns on the basis of four questions:
1. What is the status of 'the file'?
2. What is the state of affairs for residents and communities?
3. What strengthens the position of residents and communities?
4. What does this mean for the approach now and in the future?
What remains partly undiscussed in the publications reviewed is how the consequences of gas extraction manifest themselves in the daily lives of individual residents of the gas extraction area. To make this visible, photographer Marieke Kijk in de Vegte took her camera into the area. She photographed residents and their living environment who have come into contact with the consequences of gas extraction in various ways.
It is not only the state of knowledge that changes. Many developments are also taking place on the social, political and administrative level. We made a brief overview of the most important developments in the earthquake and gas extraction file between July 2019 and July 2020.
This chapter discusses publications on communication, procedures and political decision-making and the legal issues.
Publications on policy and decision-making in the gas extraction file together paint a relatively unambiguous picture of the historical developments: the interests of the residents of the gas extraction area have been structurally neglected and the adverse effects of gas extraction should have permeated sooner (Damveld, 2020; Hakkenes, 2020 ; Vlek, 2020). Even now, the focus in the reinforcement is mainly on technical knowledge (Derksen & Gebben, 2020). Knowledge about the social consequences of this is often unused and a gap is created between a systemic world of policy and the living environment of residents that is difficult for residents and professionals to bridge. New publications on the legal dimension of the gas extraction file add to this that the fundamental rights of Groningen residents are under pressure.
Governance, communication and policy
Housing market and economic developments
This chapter focuses on the consequences of gas extraction for the economy and the housing market in the gas extraction area. The housing market and the depreciation regulation, the economic situation in the region and the effect of gas extraction on entrepreneurs are discussed.
The fact that the gas extraction problem has a negative effect on the housing market no longer appears to be up for discussion in recent publications. The magnitude of this effect and the best way to determine it are subject to debate. Various publications elaborate on this in the context of the scheme for compensating for depreciation in value (De Kam & Hol, 2020; Hammerstein, Rouwendal & Boelhouwer, 2019; Poort et al., 2019). Entrepreneurs surveyed by Gronings Perspectief also experience disadvantages as a result of gas extraction (Stroebe et al., 2020a). This concerns damage as a result of earthquakes (and the costs incurred by entrepreneurs themselves for repairing this), but also the time and energy that they have to invest in the processes and procedures regarding damage settlement and reinforcement.
Health and wellbeing
In this chapter we discuss the consequences of gas extraction for the health and well-being of residents in the area. We pay special attention to the health effects on children and young people. Since the accumulation of problems and inequality of opportunity seem to play a role in health effects, publications related to such problems are also discussed.
The health of residents of the gas extraction area has been investigated by Gronings Perspectief since 2015. These studies included questionnaires and surveys. Recent studies also demonstrate that the gas extraction problems have a negative impact on the health and well-being of residents. This also applies to children and young people in the gas extraction area. There are indications that they are lagging behind compared to children in the rest of the Netherlands. While we observe a slight decrease in the negative impacts for residents with multiple damages, it is not yet clear what exactly causes the change and whether it is permanent.
Experience of safety, reinforcement, claims handling and trust
This chapter relates to the psychosocial effects of the gas extraction problem and the residents' perception of damage claim handling and reinforcement. We pay attention to the relationship between residents and the government, and to the role that social cohesion plays in the resilience of residents and communities. Compensation and recognition are also included in the research covered by this knowledge overview (Verheij et al., 2019).
The publications of Gronings Perspectief (Postmes et al., 2020; Stroebe et al., 2019a, 2019b, 2020; Vrieling et al., 2019; the Independent Counsel., 2019, 2020; the Special Situations Committee., 2019) highlight the experiences of residents. The picture of the psychosocial impact of gas extraction and earthquakes on residents remains largely unchanged in recent studies. The earthquake problem makes residents feel unsafe, frustrated and worried about the future. There is still relatively little trust in various authorities among residents.
Culture, identity and cohesion
This chapter deals with cultural heritage and identity, heritage policy, and Groningen's image as a place of residence, business location and tourist destination. An update of the NCG's Heritage Program and two publications on heritage and image from the NPG are the most important publications discussed in this chapter.
We conclude that there is increasing attention for (cultural) heritage in the gas extraction area. Several agencies are working on this. The connection between heritage, identity, quality of life and bonding is hereby recognized. Moreover, object-oriented heritage policy is making way for heritage policy in which the context, such as a village, neighborhood or landscape, is included in its entirety. Despite this, relatively few publications have been published about this unique identity of the province of Groningen. We think it is very important to invest more in heritage and identity in the coming period.
Quality of life and living environment
This chapter on quality of life and living environment focuses on three themes: the relationship between quality of life and population decline, the role that residents' initiatives play in maintaining and improving quality of life, and the energy transition.
Based on the publications discussed, we conclude that the quality of life in the gas extraction area is still under pressure. Not only the gas extraction problems, but also the lack of investment in areas where there is a population decline have contributed to this pressure. Residents' initiatives play an important role in maintaining and improving the quality of life. Various researchers point to the importance of adequate (financial) support for these residents' initiatives, especially by local authorities. Much is also expected of residents with regard to the energy transition. In view of the continuing social impact of the gas extraction problem, it is of great importance in new energy projects to pay sufficient attention to a fair distribution of benefits/burdens, and to residents inclusion in planning and implementation.