Commission backs Wadden Sea gas mining
1 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — In widely anticipated recommendations, a special commission advised the Dutch government on Thursday that gas mining in the Wadden Sea area should be permitted. The report sparked immediate criticism from environmental groups.
And in a further blow to environmentalists, it appears that the Lower House of Parliament (Tweede Kamer) supports the commission’s advice, news agency ANP reported.
In the 1990s, MPs had opposed mining in the area, but the coalition government Christian Democrat CDA party now appears to back mining under strict conditions, creating a necessary parliamentary majority.
The Cabinet plans to take a decision on gas mining in the Wadden Sea before the start of summer. Besides the CDA, government parties the Liberal VVD is in favour of gas mining and the Democrat D66 is open for discussion.
The AGW commission said mining should be allowed under strict conditions and that there are no ecological objections against gas mining, provided that it operates within “strict environment bounds”.
But it said a maximum should be placed on the amount that the sea floor may be allowed to subside as a result of the gas mining to prevent environmental damage, public news service NOS reported.
The commission said the natural build up of sludge in salt marshes and flats will compensate the subsidence of the sea floor, similar to what occurs near the island of Ameland where gas mining is already permitted.
The commission advice, which was largely leaked earlier this month, said economic activities in the Wadden Sea must be assessed within the perspective that the environment takes priority.
But it said the cockle industry does not meet with the commission’s environmental priority advice. At present, the industry is too taxing for the natural area and must be abandoned unless it develops a more environmentally-friendly catching method, the commission said.
Under the leadership of Labour PvdA MP Wim Meijer, the commission also advised the cabinet to strongly invest in the Wadden Sea area. It said EUR 300 million was needed for the Wadden Sea and sustainable development in the north of the country needed up to EUR 350 million.
Meanwhile, the director of Dutch energy company NAM, Roelof Platenkamp, said the commission report was a breakthrough and that the Wadden Sea gas was important for a reliable energy supply.
But environmental groups rejected the commission’s findings. The director of the Waddenvereniging (Wadden Association), Hans Revier, said no economic activities should be allowed in the region if concern exists over the environmental affects.
And environmental activist group Greenpeace staged a protest at the NAM gas mining platform near Ameland on Thursday morning. Three activists tried to paint the text: Laat het Wad niet zakken (Don’t let the Wad sink) on the 15m-high platform.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news