University of Groningen (RUG) has conducted independent research on the opinions of the residents of the province of Groningen about gas production from the Groningen gas field and the consequences thereof. It was studied whether and how opinions change over time. The research was conducted by Elisabeth Hoekstra, MSc, and dr. Goda Perlaviciute, under supervision of prof. dr. Linda Steg in the group of Environmental Psychology at the RUG. The research was funded by the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM). The research included three measurement phases within a period of one year (November 2013 – December 2014).
Residents of different municipalities of the province of Groningen were randomly selected and invited to participate in the study. Instructed research assistants from the RUG approached people in their homes and asked to fill in a questionnaire. Researchers aimed for a representative sample of the population of the province of Groningen. Some respondents who took part in the first measurement were later approached for the second and third measurement; opinions could therefore be monitored over time. People from different areas who have different experiences with earthquakes took part in this research.
In total, 390 people filled in the questionnaire in the first measurement phase; the average age was 52. In the second measurement phase there were 429 respondents, of whom 203 participated for the first time; the average age was 53. Finally, 413 residents took part in the third measurement phase, of whom 101 participated for the first time; the average age as 55.
People generally think that gas production from the Groningen gas field should be reduced to a certain extent; this opinion has become somewhat stronger in time. Acceptability of gas production was moderate, but it got slightly lower in time. People living in most earthquake-affected areas think relatively more that gas production should be reduced than people living in less affected areas.
The research shows that people are concerned, and remain concerned, about the earthquakes as a consequence of gas production from the Groningen gas field. Respondents consider all negative consequences of earthquakes (rather) important. This includes consequences of earthquakes for various aspects of people’s own lives and the lives of other residents of the province of Groningen, as well as the consequences for the province itself (e.g. image of the province, nature and the environment). People sometimes consider negative consequences of earthquakes to be more likely for other residents in the province of Groningen than for themselves, this was mostly observed for such consequences as material damage, stress, and reduced pleasure in life.
Respondents are critical about NAM. They generally evaluate negatively the openness and honesty of NAM. People think that NAM did not carefully commit to the laws and regulations in the past. Next, people do not evaluate the competences of the NAM favourably. These evaluations became more negative over time. Residents of most earthquake-affected areas are slightly more critical about NAM than residents of less affected areas.
With respect to earthquakes, people have most trust in municipalities, and they think that municipalities were most committed to obligations in the past. These evaluations are slightly less positive for the province of Groningen and the Dialoogtafel Groningen, and these evaluations are rather negative for the national government and NAM. People generally evaluate the competences of involved parties with respect to earthquakes neither positively nor negatively. However, this evaluation is rather negative for the national government. Residents of areas that are most affected by earthquakes have more trust in municipality than residents of less affected areas. In general, trust in municipalities increased, while trust in the national government decreased over time.
Evaluation of mitigation measures
The results from the last measurement indicate that participants do not give a strongly positive or negative judgement of how NAM handles damage claims. Residents of areas that are relatively less affected by earthquakes (municipalities of Zuidhorn, Groningen, and Delfzij) are slightly more critical about the management of damage claims than residents of more strongly affected areas. According to respondents, mainly the Centre for Safe Living (
Centrum voor Veilig Wonen) should manage the damage claims, while municipalities, the province, the national government, and NAM should be involved less. Especially people in the areas that are most affected by earthquakes think that NAM should not be managing damage claims.
The third measurement also shows that people consider certain mitigation measures highly necessary, such as compensation for damage, compensation for reduced value of homes and buildings, structural reinforcement of houses, reinforcing dikes and roads, stimulating local economy and employment, and improving the transparency of information and activities related to gas production and earthquakes. Respondents are not very positive about how these measures are being implemented.
Respondents think that subsidies for increasing the value of houses should first of all be provided to people who are most exposed to the risks of earthquakes.
More details about this research can be found on
Data and results
The data collected in this research is confidential and anonymous. The RUG will use the data for scientific purposes. The results are shared, while securing confidentiality and anonymity, with people who participated in this research, media, Dialoogtafel Groningen, and NAM.
Note for media
For more information, please contact Elisabeth Hoekstra via e-mail email@example.com
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