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Gas drilling in Wadden Sea ‘environmentally safe’

15 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — Despite government division over the issue, an investigative commission is set to advise the Cabinet that drilling for gas in the Wadden Sea should be permitted.

The commission has reportedly concluded that the environmental risk would be low if drilling took place from the mainland. It said the drilling could angle down to the gas located underneath the sea and mudflats.

Having studied the future of the northern coastal area, the commission said that more money should be allocated to the maintenance of the neglected nature reserve. The yields from drilling could be used for such a purpose, it said.
Under the leadership of Labour PvdA MP Wim Meijer, the commission also said the regional economy in the north of the Netherlands should benefit from the earnings, estimated at EUR 10 billion.

The commission has also advised that shellfish catches in the Wadden Sea should be restricted has urged for the creation of a separate management organisation that could bring all regulations and control under one roof.

The report will be given to the Cabinet in about two weeks time, public news service NOS reported on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the environment group Waddenvereniging has reacted with disappointment to the gas mining recommendations, but backed calls for a central management organisation.
The government coalition parties remain divided over the issue of drilling. The Liberal VVD is in favour of mining, but the Democrat D66 is opposed.

Despite this, D66 leader Boris Dittrich has urged party colleagues to keep an open mind and let the facts of the research speak for themselves.

The government accord reached between the Christian Democrat CDA, VVD and D66 left open the possibility of gas drilling from the mainland, but also urged an agreement be reached with energy companies to prevent drilling within the next 10 years

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news