An investment fund must be set up for residents living near the gas storage facilities in Langelo and Grijpskerk (Gr.). That is what Noordenveld mayor Klaas Smid and Westerkwartier alderman Bé Schollema think. The fund is intended to partly compensate ‘the severe suffering’ of local residents and to improve the quality of life in villages.
Mayor Smid says that together with the municipality of Westerkwartier, he is looking at how an investment fund should be created. “The fact that we have the gas storage must be translated into funds for the area. Residents must also benefit from this. How exactly that will be implemented remains to be seen.”
Alderman Schollema takes the National Program Groningen (NPG) as an example for the investment fund. “The NPG contributes to the future of the area,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, an investment fund is a wish and a requirement in one. As long as there are still activities here and we therefore offer a solution to the gas crisis, the residents should notice this.”
The plans for an investment fund are still early and need to be worked out in more detail, says Schollema. “But as far as I’m concerned, that will be something that residents can influence and talk about. It is sometimes called a game of mirrors and beads, but that is really not the intention. In Groningen, I really see plans emerging at the NPG that have a contribute to the future of villages. That should also happen around Grijpskerk and Langelo.”
Where the money for an investment fund has to come from, Schollema ‘will be a beetroot’. “Whether that is the ministry or the NAM: as far as I am concerned, that is a ‘back door conversation’. Moreover, it does not matter to the resident. As long as there is money.”
The details of an investment fund are ultimately discussed at so-called environmental tables. At these environmental tables, talks are held between the municipalities and residents of the area, with the Netherlands Petroleum Company (NAM) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK). This mainly concerns how the benefits and burdens related to the gas storage should be divided.
Leendert Klaassen (former mayor of Zuidhorn and CDA politician) is a supervisor during these talks. He says that the first talks took place ‘in an open atmosphere’. “The conversation at the environmental tables is now mainly about what is currently happening underground. It has not yet been about an investment fund.”
Klaassen thinks that the conversation will be about the investment fund at a later stage. What should be done with the cushion gas (gas that remains after emptying the gas storage in Langelo to maintain the required soil pressure) will therefore also be discussed. EZK has indicated at an earlier stage that it is considering extracting this cushion gas from the ground at Langelo. The cushion gas is even part of the extraction plan.
That is not yet the case in Grijpskerk, Schollema knows. “And we are opposed to that, as we are at Langelo. It cannot be the case that residents will get into even more trouble with the extraction of this cushion gas.”