Worldlog Week 37 – 2011

16 september 2011

Tuesday 20 September is Prinsjesdag, the day the government announces its plans and associated expenses for the coming year in what is called the 'Miljoenennota' or Budget Memorandum. Even though the government had not intended to release the Budget Memorandum before Friday 16 September, it was mistakenly available online one day early. The citizen's faith in the government wasn't that great to start with, this will certainly not help it any…

Walking the walk on Prinsjesdag is of the utmost importance. Who will help me choose some shoes to wear? 😉

This week the government's most important advisory body and the Netherlands' highest general administrative court passed a fantastic judgement this week. The State Council nullified the permit to construct a hydroelectric power station in Borgharen, Limburg that would have been detrimental to the fish population. This verdict ends our battle against this hydro electrical power station. According to the State Council, the province did not properly investigate the consequences this power station would have for fish stocks in the Meuse river.

We were the only party against constructing a hydroelectric power station in Borgharen. The spinning blades that these power stations use to generate hydroelectric power kill the fish, including protected species such as salmon and eels. This hydroelectric power station was pitched as green, but if innumerable fish are to be mulched to death, the power station will turn the river red, as my colleague Esther Ouwehand justifiably noted. It's just as well that the State Council put a stop to it.

On our party's request, a hearing was held about drilling for shale gas. Shale gas is a gas taken from the earth's crust and it is difficult to extract. The drilling is controversial because it requires a great many chemicals and also because drilling can release dangerous materials, such as methane gas and oil. Those who live around where the drilling would take place are not pleased. Despite this fact, the Minister of Economic Affairs – Ms Verhagen, still wants to allow test drilling in the province of Brabant in the autumn.

We are very much against drilling for shale gas because the risks to public health and safety are unacceptable and the drilling could affect nature's delicate balance. Not to mention that clinging to the use of fossil fuels will very much delay the transition we need to make to clean fuels. There was a great deal of zest for the hearing. Hopefully the other political parties have heard the message loud and clear and they will also take a stand against drilling for shale gas.

We also lodged a motion this week to halt mass goose gassings. State Secretary Bleker (Agriculture) recently amended the Animals (Management and Damage Control) Decree so that as of 1 October it shall be possible to trap large groups of moulting geese in mobile spaces, then gas them. Unacceptable! The motion will soon be brought to the vote in the Lower House.

The discussion about mega stalls is also still live, although I wonder to what extent this is still a discussion. The Dutch investigative programme Zembla discovered that citizens often came off second best when livestock factories expand, and that they deal with civil servants who have ties to the cattle industry. The constant signals from the citizens who say they don't feel heard and who are dealing with a government who want to give the cattle industry free reign, no matter what the cost, are a great concern. The fact that the administration's integrity is in question only serves to fuel my concern. That is why we requested an emergency debate on the mega stall issue. During the emergency debate I asked for independent research into the way in which municipalities and provinces award permits for cattle farms. I hear more and more often about such issues as flouting the rules and apparent conflicts of interest. I want this cleared up as quickly as possible.

See you next week, with photos of Prinsjesdag!