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Independent handling of mining damage: important for Dutch energy supply

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The Hague, 20 December 2019 – In the summer of 2020, a single claims handling desk and a Mining Damage Committee to handle all claims relating to damage caused by gas production in the Netherlands. Claims will be handled in an independent, public and rapid way to relieve the burden on citizens. The Minister has asked the members of Element NL, the trade association for oil and gas producers in the Netherlands, to participate. The operating companies have undertaken to cooperate and will sign an agreement with the Minister to formalise this position. In this agreement, the companies will undertake, among other things, to accept the Committee's decision as binding.
It is also in the interests of Element NL's members that any damage claims are processed independently and quickly. Jo Peters, Secretary General of Element NL: “Although the number of damage claims relating to gas production from the small fields has been small in recent years, we do see an increasing need among residents for certainty that any damage caused by gas production will be handled objectively. In other words, without the intervention of the operating company. By establishing an independent committee and enshrining the commitment of the operating companies in an agreement, this certainty has been achieved”. Independent damage claims settlement (separate from the operating company), where the damage claimant is unburdened and is not obliged to demonstrate that the damage was caused by gas production (the committee has this responsibility), is, in the view of Element NL, an important condition for the acceptance of current and future gas production activities.

The creation of a nationwide independent claims settlement procedure also offers a good match with the Code of Conduct for Gas Production from Small Fields, which was drawn up in 2017 to provide clarity and certainty to stakeholders about the development process of gas production projects and to make a contribution to the local communities.{nbsp1/} Element NL re-evaluated the Code of Conduct this year, resulting in an updated version which will be published early next year. This is particularly expedient now that the new claims settlement procedure has been finalised.

The Netherlands still needs natural gas, now and in the coming decades, not least because the transition to a sustainable energy supply will not be achieved overnight. This being the case, natural gas production in the Netherlands has several advantages: it causes lower greenhouse gas emissions than gas imported from abroad, it generates money rather than costing money, it creates jobs, and ensures that the Netherlands is less dependent on foreign countries. For this reason, the Dutch government intends to continue production at home. De small fields account for almost half of the natural gas consumed in the Netherlands. Public acceptance of gas production activities is an important part of enabling gas production, now and in the near future.


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