Dutch court puts gas storage plan on ice

8th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Netherlands' highest administrative court Monday ordered plans to build one of Europe's largest gas storage plants be put on ice, saying safety objections by interest groups needed further study.

The Hague-based Council of State said "it temporary suspended a decision" by the Dutch government to approve plans for the Bergermeer project near the northwestern town of Alkmaar.

"The answers to complex legal questions needs further investigation," the Hague-based Council of State added in its public judgment.

The Dutch government on May 17 gave the green light to develop the site, which would have a capacity to store 4.1 billion cubic metres of gas. Work was to start in mid-2011.

But fierce opposition met the project, particularly by local residents who said they feared the storage of natural gas could cause earthquakes and the facility would compromise the natural surroundings.

The Council of State said until it had more information from local groups including nature organisations and the local municipality, it "temporarily suspends plans to ensure there will not be irreversible consequences later."

Situated at Bergermeer, about 45 kilometres (30) miles north of Amsterdam, the facility is to be built at a cost of 800 million euros ($1.13 billion dollars).

It was expected to be operational by 2014, according to UAE-based oil and gas group Taqa, which will construct and run the site.

© 2011 AFP

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