In order to ensure that extraction in the Netherlands runs smoothly, there are laws and regulations included in the Mining Act, the Mining Decree and the Mining Regulations. In addition to these mining regulations, all kinds of other laws apply, such as the Nature Conservation Act, the Environmental Licensing (General Provisions) Act (Wabo) specifically for, among other things, construction, the environment, nature and space. ONE-Dyas can only realise a gas production project if all the licensing requirements have been met and all the necessary studies have been carried out. Throughout the entire licensing process there is a possibility for interested parties to comment via this formal route
Laws and regulations per phase
To carry out the seismic survey, a so-called ‘further impact assessment’ is carried out, based on the Nature Conservation Act. This assessment shows whether a project has significant effects on a nature area and the protected animal species in the area. Cumulative effects of projects that are carried out at the same time are considered too. Permits are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).
Exploratory drillings to detect natural gas take place inside or outside the territorial waters. The boundary of the territorial waters is 12 nautical miles from the coast, which is about 22 kilometres. The difference is in the type of licence required.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is carried out for exploratory drilling outside territorial waters to check whether an EIA procedure must be followed. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality advises and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy assesses whether the EIA assessment is enough. For these exploratory drillings, a ‘BARMM’ approval is requested a few weeks before the drilling starts, based on the Decree on Common Environmental Rules for Mining Activities (BARMM). This application describes and substantiates how the operator will comply with the environmental regulations. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy grants the approval. The State Supervision of Mines (SodM) advises on the approval and inspects during the execution of the exploratory drilling at the site.
ONE-Dyas is following a voluntary EIA procedure for exploratory drilling within territorial waters. For these exploratory drillings, a permit based on the Environmental Licensing (General Provisions) Act (Wabo) is required anyway. The procedures for obtaining an environmental permit in the areas of construction, environment, nature and monuments are established in the Wabo. The EIA and Wabo procedures ensure that stakeholders have a say in the licensing process.
Before starting production, it is first necessary to obtain an extraction permit. Once this has been issued, applications can be submitted for subsequent permits (approval of the extraction plan, Wabo, EIA, appropriate assessment, planning permission for the pipeline, location permit for the production platform).
The EIA procedure consists of several steps:
- Notification (mededeling) This indicates the content of the plans, the procedure and the scope of the EIA. The notification is submitted on 3 June 2019 and on display from 9 August until 19 September 2019.
- An EIA. This describes the entire project and examines its impact on the environment and nature. The EIA is an annex to the application for the Wabo permit.
The applications for the production plan, the Wabo permit for the production platform and the construction permits for the pipeline are dealt with in combination. This means that the permits and licences will be published at the same time. All participation responses are also assessed simultaneously.
The extraction plan also has an annex: the soil subsidence report. This annex discusses the probability and magnitude of any subsidence and the probability and maximum magnitude of any earthquakes. This report is prepared by independent experts and assessed by TNO and SodM.
The Wabo permit for the production platform also includes an annex: the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The EIA examines the impact of gas production on the environment and nature. This includes, for example, emissions into the air and effects on birds and seals. The EIA has its own procedure, the EIA procedure.
When the extraction stage is over and the platform is to be decommissioned, a closure plan and a work programme will be submitted. These plans are then assessed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, which looks at whether environment-friendly methods are used and if the work is carried out safely.
For more information on gas extraction, supervision and permits in the Netherlands, please visit the (English) website of Energie Beheer Nederland (EBN).