Column | And yet it is good to live in Groningen
You keep hearing that Groningen is very far from The Hague. It’s true. I think that also applies to Limburg, and even to Zeeland, which is not so far from The Hague, but where the infrastructure is just as rare, if not rarer than in the North. And then there will be two other nuclear power plants in Borssele. “So, of course, there will also be a lot more high-voltage cables to transport this energy,” sighs a resident who now takes advantage of the space. They have the same awful electricity pylons in Zeeland as we do in Groningen: very tall, standing next to each other in pairs and, worst of all, they are bright white, so that when the sun shines , they can be seen for miles.
But it’s about the convenience of living somewhere, the beauty of the landscape, the attachment to the environment and few people in The Hague seem to care. You can’t meet a Groningen without them praising space and sky, everyone is proud of medieval churches, red brick villages on their mounds – but what will they look like in a while ? An incredible amount will be demolished and rebuilt in the near future, but as Chief Government Architect Francesco Veenstra recently rightly pointed out: there is no plan or vision for this reconstruction. After the gas, are we now also going to get the character out of Groningen?
The administrators of Groningen keep saying that Groningen has countless answers to all kinds of problems: “The future has already begun in Groningen! Well, the future doesn’t look so good. But we seem to be leading the way in the energy transition (more electricity pylons, more wind turbines, more solar parks) and you will also see how circular agriculture will flourish here.
Just live well and far, instead of running to The Hague wagging your tail
I don’t know if farmers, with their often large and intensive farms, are already aware of this.
In Unrivaled Magazine north latitude wrote Susan Top, secretary of the Groningen Gas Council and someone who knows what she’s talking about, that drivers always have such a tendency to general rumble. They casually assert that Groningen’s “challenges” (by which they mean: serious problems) [creëren] for solutions. “Why this would be the case remains unclear,” writes Top. International students, a fast train connection, a more favorable investment climate – this is of little use to most inhabitants of the earthquake zone. On the contrary. Soon there will also be data centers and factories that will have to convert electricity into hydrogen.
Top wonders if it wouldn’t even be refreshing to simply say, “We don’t need any more wind turbines, solar farms, or high-voltage cables here.” And we also want to keep the space here spacious. “If you want to use it, we will carefully consider your plans.” To simply be sovereign, to live well and far, instead of running to The Hague wagging our tails and barking happily to show that we would like to solve the country’s problems here, without the country solving our problems.
And here’s to finally letting people know where they stand. Save paint on the high-voltage pylons, monuments and characteristic views of the village, have new constructions supervised by architects… Perhaps the future really begins in Groningen.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper on March 6, 2023
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