North Sea island of Borkum: risk of subsidence and earthquakes
Photo: Sina Schuldt / dpa
The authorities have received around a dozen objections to the controversial natural gas production on the North Sea off Borkum.
The responsible Lower Saxony State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG) announced on request that the comments and objections received were currently being examined as part of the planning approval process.
A hearing is to follow shortly, at which the statements will be discussed with the support consortium surrounding the Dutch company One-Dyas.
The deadline for objections expired in early December.
One-Dyas and its partners plan to produce natural gas from a field between the islands of Schiermonnikoog (Netherlands) and Borkum from the end of 2024.
The area is close to the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park.
Funding is to be provided in both Dutch and German sovereign areas.
On the Dutch side, the authorities had already given the green light for funding at the beginning of June.
The planning approval procedure is still necessary for funding on the German side.
Risks for people and the environment
According to the State Mining Authority, the objections are about possible dangers to the environment, the population and tourism.
The risk of subsidence and earthquakes as well as the consequences of noise and pollutant emissions from natural gas production would also be discussed, it said.
In addition, the impact of the project on protected areas and climate change would also be addressed.
A total of eleven statements or objections were received from authorities and public interest organizations, five from nature conservation or environmental associations and three from private individuals.
The application documents were previously available from the cities of Borkum and Norderney as well as in the island community of Juist, in the community of Krummhörn (Aurich district) and at the state mining authority.
Several North Sea islands and an alliance around the German Environmental Aid (DUH) had already announced that they would sue against the approval for natural gas production in the Netherlands.
The organizations plan to take legal action against the drilling even if the German side approves it.
"We will exhaust all legal steps to stop this project," said the DUH federal manager Sascha Müller-Kraenner recently.
The environmental aid and the citizens' initiative (BI) Clean Air Ostfriesland criticize that the drilling is not compatible with climate goals and fear damage to nature.
“From birds’ eggs contaminated with heavy metals to porpoises’ eardrums bursting due to the noise pollution caused by construction work – natural gas production in the Wadden Sea natural area and in the “Borkum Riff” nature reserve would have devastating consequences,” said BI spokesman Bernd Meyerer.
Under the impression of the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, Lower Saxony's former red-black state government reversed an original decision against natural gas production off Borkum in the summer.
The coalition agreement of the new red-green state government now states that the "protection of the environment, nature, the Wadden Sea and the island" will be of central importance in the planning approval process for funding in front of Borkum.
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) also recently commented on the project.
She said, "The best thing would be to stop the gas production project."