Alongside King’s Commissioner René Paas and Mayor Koen Schuiling, Johan Remkes, a retired VVD politician who is also chairman of the Groningen national program, suddenly appeared at Nieuwspoort in The Hague to draw national attention to a follow-up appropriate of the parliamentary inquiry into gas production.
It has long been said that gas extraction cannot be reduced, otherwise we would get cold feet. But that turned out not to be true at all. You said at the press conference that everyone had been in the security of supply framework for a very long time. Shouldn’t you say more strongly that the people of Groningen have been deceived or lied to?
“That’s what the parliamentary inquiry says, of course. I found that really valuable and for me it was an eye opener. Other than that, of course, there wasn’t much new in the report for me. We already knew that money always trumps the interests of the people of Groningen, but I didn’t know yet that the calculation on security of supply was completely wrong.
You say that the extra money must go to Groningen for at least 25 years.
“No, it’s not just about money, it’s about politics. Think about infrastructure. The criteria that apply to the allocation of money for traffic are related to traffic intensity. Then you find yourself almost automatically at the busiest points, so in the Randstad. You can also ask if people don’t have an inherent right to mobility.
Last weekend it also turned out that most bus stops have disappeared in Groningen and Drenthe in recent years.
“Yeah, that’s why I don’t call him that for nothing.” So something really has to change. The inhabitants of Groningen also have the right to mobility.”
The report also contains the reproach that the administrators of Groningen have not been able to do enough to help the people of Groningen.
“I didn’t take that as an accusation. Because what should you do as a Groningen driver? A lot of energy has been invested in it by René Paas and many other directors. They did what they could. But you don’t get your way. What could you have done then? Declare the free republic of Groningen?
Shouldn’t you have thought of that?
“I think the arsenal was quite depleted. I thought a lot ‘what else is possible’. There are members who have made great efforts. But the fists should have been pounded harder on the table in more factions. Also within the VVD group, let me say that too.’
Has anyone ever seriously thought or philosophized about such a free republic of Groningen?
“As far as I know, it’s never really been thought about. And you only have to look at certain foreign countries to know that these discussions are never very fruitful. Look at Scotland, look at Barcelona.”
You will also come back briefly in the report because you did not take seriously one of the first earthquake whistleblowers, Meent van der Sluis, as a provincial administrator in the 1990s.
“Meent van der Sluis prompted us to investigate. This showed that the likelihood that the earthquakes were caused by gas mining was not very likely.”
It’s simply tracked by you as the driver. Also by us as media, I have to admit, we are not exempt from responsibility either.
“In general, you can trust science. You have to have a certain degree of certainty in life. You cannot say without any scientific basis: “there must be a link between gas extraction and earthquakes”. In retrospect, the scientific institutes were also wrong, including the administrators and journalists who based themselves on this.’
Looking back, do you think you should have done things differently?
,,No. You check for yourself whether you could have reached these conclusions on the basis of reasonableness. The answer is always ‘yes’.”
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