Dutch parliament forbids shale gas exploitation for two more years
The Dutch Parliament has voted a motion that forbids the government to allow shale gas exploitation in the Netherlands during the actual government's legislature. Normally, this term of office will run until end 2016.
Like most Western European countries, the Netherlands have a multi party political tradition. To find enough votes to reach a majority in parliamentarian vote, compromises have to be made. Most compromises use a language that leaves broad room for interpretation. In this case, discussion is still going on about the difference between (field) exploration and exploitation.
The current Dutch government is a collation of one liberal democratic (VVD) and one social democratic (PVDA) party. The motion however, an joint initiative of PVDA and opposition party Groenlinks (green left), received a large majority in votes, but wasn't supported by prime minister Mark Rutte's VVD. Because of the use of a compromise languages, this causes almost no friction between the government parties.
Prime minister Rutte already declared that, however shale gas exploitation now is put on hold, explorative drills still are possible during his term of office. Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp (VVD) thinks about a year is needed to find out whether the use of (Dutch) shale gas is needed and useful and if it can be exploited on a responsible manner. In his opinion about end 2015 a structural vision document can be presented. Based on this document, the government will take into consideration if test drills can be done.
If test drills can only start beginning 2016, the motion that exploitation is not allowed before end 2016 has no practical consequences. Kamp intends to continue research activities. Some municipalities, where test drills locations are intended, already insisted to abandon this actions. Kamp however believes it is wise to go on, to find out anyway what are the risks and opportunities of shale gas extraction in the Netherlands.