Gezinus (79) wins court case against State. His farm in Wagenborgen has been saved from demolition. “I asked three times: Is it really so?”

The characteristic farm of Gezinus Oosting (79) and Hanneke Heerema (69) from Wagenborgen has been saved from demolition. They won the State’s appeal. “Where Groningen wants to preserve characteristic heritage, the State seems to want to demolish it,” says lawyer Ludith Haarsma.

The moving boxes are packed in the hallway, that is how much pressure Gezinus Oosting (79) experienced from the State that wanted to have his house demolished. “What else was I supposed to do? With the threat that they will kick you out, you start packing.”

But the situation is completely different now. With a sigh, Oosting puts the pot of coffee and the jug of milk on the dining table of his farmhouse in Wagenborgen. It’s a sigh of relief for a change. Lawyer Ludith Haarsma sits opposite him with a grin on her face.

‘No question of an unsafe situation’

Easting sits down. The years of struggle against the State have marked him psychologically, but also financially. The highest court ruled in their favor last week: home and hearth are spared. The State wanted to demolish the farm because of earthquake damage. The building would be too unsafe to live in.

Oosting and Heerema disagreed. They pointed to a report from a building expert they had engaged, which states that the house is safe. “The farm is damaged, but there is no question of an unsafe situation,” says Haarsma.

Plans for water bottling plant on ice

The farm in Wagenborgen has been the center of legal troubles for years. In another case at the end of 2019, Oosting and Heerema filed a claim against NAM of almost 40 million euros for lost income. They wanted to start a water bottling plant years ago, but due to earthquake damage, the plans are still on hold. The case will go to court in the fall.

Water bottling plant

At the end of 2019, the Oosting family and Hanneke Heerema demanded almost 40 million euros from NAM . According to the couple, severe earthquake damage prevented them from starting their business, due to the problems surrounding claims handling. Partly because of this, Oosting and Heerema would have missed out on 36 million euros in income and profit and ended up in financial problems. According to the NAM, the damage was not due to earthquakes, but due to incorrectly performed repairs and overdue maintenance.

Oosting and Heerema had wanted to earn millions by bottling water for the Chinese market from the well that was discovered in 2004 on the farm grounds. The water from the well was removed on July 1, 2009 recognized by the then Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport as natural mineral water.

With the knife to the throat

Because their company failed to get off the ground, Oosting and Heerema were in arrears on their mortgage. In desperation, they signed an agreement with the State to have their farm demolished, which has now been overruled by the courts. “They made this choice with a knife to their throat.”

‘The State behaves like an elephant in a china shop’

“Father State has claimed to be generous to victims since the outcome of the parliamentary committee of inquiry, but behaves like an elephant in a china shop,” says Haarsma. “And where Groningen wants to preserve characteristic heritage, the State seems to want to demolish it.”

According to Haarsma, the court ruling has created a new situation. “The State always had free rein, but now the court has to put the brakes on it. I think that is a signal that fits with the findings of the committee of inquiry. It is a wonderful victory for my clients and a heart under the belt for other citizens who litigate against the State.”

“You are treated as a perpetrator, but we are victims”

But Oosting’s frustration runs deep. ,,We have done nothing wrong, this happened to us”, he says with a red face. “The State has treated us as perpetrators, but we are victims.” He continues: “Mentally you are exhausted and financially stripped. I had to spend 450,000 euros on all kinds of investigations against the State and the NAM. And the State is super powerful, you can hardly compete with that.”

The relief is therefore enormous. ,,I was with acquaintances to relax when Ludith called us. Tears rolled down my cheeks,” says Oosting. I asked three more times, “Is it really so?” My acquaintances thought I had received bad news, but it was actually great news.”