The first formal and reliable prognosis of the subsidence by gas extraction dates 1985. All previous predictions are based on rough estimates. Based on these first formal prognosis an environmental impact assessment was made by the Waterloopkundig Laboratorium and the Rijksinstituut voor Natuurbeheer (now WL | delft hydraulics and Alterra). Effects were predicted on morphology, the tidal flats, the amount of food for birds, erosion and regression of saltmarshes etc. However the production plant was already built and there was authorization for the production of gas.
The provincial nature organisation It Fryske Gea, administrator of the area was confronted with the possible serious consequences and was very unhappy with the situation. She requested the Dutch Oil Company NAM by letter to take responsibility by monitoring the effects of gas extraction in the area.
In order to keep her credibility concerning the design and outcome of the monitoring NAM asked the Ministries of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) and Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (V&W) to form a Supervisory committee. The committee should guarantee the independence and should monitor the progress, completeness and quality of the investigations. The Supervisory Committee Monitoring Subsidence Ameland (also knwon as Committee Subsidence Ameland or the Committee) started in 1986.
Members of the Committee Subsidence Ameland are:
Independent Chairman: Mr. J.de Vlas
Secretariat: Mr. J. Marquenie (NAM)
Gemeente Ameland: Mr. K.Naaijer and Mr. W.Bakema
It Fryske Gea: Mr. H. de Vries
Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Department of Regional Affairs North: Mr. H. Dürenkamp
Provincie Fryslân: Mr. P. Bot en Mr. W. Elderhorst
Rijkswaterstaat Noord-Nederland: Mr. A. Prakken
Decisions are made by majority and were unanimous untill today All members have their own expertise. The cmmittee is independent. The ndependence is assured by the following rules:
- Committeemembers participate at their own expence and bring in their own expertise. The investigation is paid by NAM, but the committee controls and approves the investigation. Researchers report to the committee.
- Progress is followed by yearly meetings of the committee members and meetings of the committee with researchers. In this way the committee can anticipate on new developments. On a regular base field visits are made by the chairman, the secretary and the complete committee.
- Every 5 years a public report is made. In 2000 the the report was public defended to a forum of well known scientists. This meeting was organised by the University of Groningen (RUG). The RUG organised a technical scientific meeting as well in 2005.
The above described procedure guarantees an important amount of independence, openness and flexibility. The monitoring program can be adapted to new insights in a transparent way.
The committee has the needed authority and trust and can act decisive. Untill now this has lead to a responsible and efficient use of funds with a positive social repsonse.