Social impact of gas extraction in Groningen: The state of affairs

Affecting quality of life? Stress, fear, anger, frustration, insecurity and mistrust? Too many authorities and administrative spaghetti? The Knowledge Platform collects research into the impact of gas extraction in Groningen and takes stock. What is the state of knowledge? Here is an overview based on 6 themes.
based on our 2018 literature study
1. Governance, policy and communication

What do we know?

There is a great deal of mistrust in NAM, the national government and bodies involved in dealing with damage and reinforcement. This is due to lengthy procedures, complicated regulations and because so many bodies are involved: the "administrative spaghetti". This is difficult for both residents and authorities. It is agreed that communication plays an important role, but residents do not think that communication is good. It is difficult for citizens to understand how security is handled. Residents also believe that authorities talk too much about them, but not with them, and communication with children and young people is inadequate.

What do we not know yet?

There are major challenges in this area, but really only the citizen's perspective has been properly researched. There is little research into policies, regulations and their effectiveness. There is also little research into the coordination between the many authorities. Finally, the role of the media has not been sufficiently researched.

2. Feelings, security and trust

What do we know?

The earthquakes cause a lot of negativity. People with damage feel unsafe, they can become anxious and sometimes feel powerless. Financial uncertainty can arise. There are several causes for the negative feelings. Claims handling can be very cumbersome and takes a lot of energy. There is a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty, for example around reinforcement. The quality of communication with authorities also sometimes leads to frustration.

The trust that people have in the national government and in institutions is low. People feel not taken seriously and not heard.

Due to the problems, the mutual solidarity in the earthquake area is increasing slightly. Residents also hope that the quakes could lead to more jobs.

What do we not know yet?

There is already a lot of research into the perception of residents. The international literature on disasters and how people deal with them writes a lot about resilience. Little is known about this in the case of Groningen. Further research is needed into how Groningen residents prepare for a new earthquake and its outcome and consequences .

3. Housing market and economic developments

What do we know?

The economic consequences of the gas extraction problem are mixed. The housing market in the earthquake area is disrupted. It is more difficult to sell houses, the house value has fallen. Municipalities and citizens incur additional costs that are not always reimbursed. For example, residents spend more money on unplanned investments and tenants have to deal with adjustments to their homes due to the earthquakes, which cause rents to rise.

On the other hand, there are more employment opportunities in various sectors, and some of the residents benefit from this. Residents hope that substantial investments will be made in the economic development of the region. Money has been set aside for this in the National Program Groningen.

What do we not know yet?

There is still too little research into the influence of gas extraction on the labor market and economic activity in the region. The influence of the soil movement on the economy of households and the region is still unknown. There is also nothing to say about the distribution of the burdens and benefits.

4. Living environment and quality of life

What do we know?

Most people live happily and satisfactorily in Groningen. But this quality of life in the earthquake area is slightly lower than in other parts of Groningen. Residents experience a lot of nuisance from gas extraction, but they would like to continue living in the area. Residents would therefore like to see investment in the area and would prefer to spend this on alternative energy, making buildings more sustainable, keeping facilities instant, promoting employment and making buildings earthquake-resistant.

What do we not know yet?

Little is known about how the region can be developed and given a positive impulse. Groningen offers unique opportunities for sustainable energy and innovation.

5. Culture, identity and image

What do we know?

Groningers are proud of their living environment: they like to live well in the province. It is therefore a pity that gas extraction negatively affects the image of the province. There are many concerns about damage to cultural heritage. In the perception of people, gas extraction therefore has a negative influence on the cultural identity of the area and the people. But in the meantime there are few facts about how gas extraction affects the image of the region.

What do we not know yet?

Little is known about the influence of the gas extraction problem on the image of Groningen and the identity of the area and its inhabitants. It would be good to investigate the connection with Groningen in connection with shrinkage, because both occur in some areas.

6. Health and well-being

What do we know?

Damage and earthquakes have a negative impact on public health. The more damage people have to their home, the greater the chance that they will develop health problems such as stress, depression or anxiety. Experiencing an earthquake also increases stress. In addition, people can suffer from burnout complaints, because damage handling and reinforcement can put a lot of pressure on residents.

What do we not know yet?

Much is already known about the short-term impact of gas extraction on the health of adults. The long-term impact of this is not yet known. It is also still unknown how many of the children and young people experience negative consequences.