The UNESCO World Heritage Center threatens to withdraw the World Heritage status of the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea if the Dutch government cannot explain before January 15 how there could be permission in principle to extract gas in the Wadden Sea. This gas extraction goes against the international obligations that the Netherlands has to protect, preserve and pass on the world heritage to future generations, together with Germany and Denmark. Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Secretary Carola Schouten reported the matter to the House of Representatives.
Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij NAM wants to extract gas off the coast of Tyrnard in Friesland. The drilling rig is located outside the part of the Wadden Sea that is a World Heritage site, but there are serious concerns about seafloor disturbance and about the ecological balance, the World Heritage Center wrote. The center said, because scientists also do not know the impact of gas extraction on the vulnerable area, the principle that mining, gas and oil extraction are incompatible with World Heritage status should be the leading one.
Gas extraction off the coast of Turnard is politically and administratively controversial. On Monday, the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee found that key information was missing from the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the Non-Aligned Movement. For example, there is a lack of information about subsidence and about the effect of gas extraction on nature. Little is known about the construction of a gas pipeline. The committee advises Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Steve Block to prepare an additional report before any permits are issued.
The UNESCO World Heritage Center also opposes the excavation and construction work needed to build a wind farm in the northern part of the Wadden Sea. To bring the generated power to shore, a cable must be laid the length of Schiermonnikoog. The World Heritage Center is interested in biodiversity and wants to know more about this project.
If the Dutch answers are not satisfactory, the status of the Wadden Sea will be discussed at the next international meeting of UNESCO in June 2022. According to Minister Schuten, the Netherlands will respond to the warning issued by the World Heritage Center in January.