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Fear of earthquakes risen sharply among inhabitants of earthquake zone

24 January 2014

The fear and anxiety due to the earthquakes in Northeast Groningen has risen sharply in recent years among the inhabitants of this earthquake zone. In 2009, the general feeling was that living comfort was not really under threat. By 2013, however, the impact of the earthquakes in the region has become significant, perhaps even more so because many people were initially under the impression that it wouldn’t be so bad. This is the conclusion drawn by Prof. George de Kam, honorary professor of Housing and Landmarkets at the University of Groningen.

De Kam will be publishing his report (Dutch), ‘Opvattingen van bewoners over de effecten van aardbevingen op het woongenot en de woningwaarde in Groningen’ [The views of inhabitants on the effects of earthquakes on living comfort and house values in Groningen] today. In 2009 and in 2013, he investigated people’s views on the effects of the earthquakes by asking inhabitants of Middelstum, Loppersum and Slochteren to fill in questionnaires.

Shift

‘The most remarkable conclusion is that the fear and anxiety in Slochteren increased dramatically between 2009 and 2013. In 2009, the inhabitants of Slochteren were still very laid back, certainly compared with the inhabitants of Loppersum and Middelstum’, says De Kam. ‘The general opinion was that living comfort and house values would probably not be that affected. That opinion had radically changed in 2013. This is why I think it very important to take the opinions of the inhabitants of the entire gas field extremely seriously, now that the Cabinet has decided to significantly reduce the extraction around Loppersum.’

Becoming accustomed

‘Earthquakes are now everyday events in Middelstum and Loppersum, and there are signs that people are becoming accustomed. However, we are discussing a situation where in addition to the material damage, half of the inhabitants are living with a feeling of anxiety or fear. Because the neighbourhoods I chose are relatively representative, we can conclude that many thousands of Groningers are living with similar stress. The study has shown that this is not just confined to the people who have suffered material damage – although the emotional impact of that is significant.’

Half of the inhabitants want to move

‘The earthquakes have resulted in over half of the inhabitants in the research saying that they would prefer to live outside the gas field, simply to feel safer. This wish is strongest among those with material damage, or react to the earthquakes more emotionally.’
Last modified:15 September 2017 3.33 p.m.
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