Sint enters Tervuren with a big party: “He has to fill a lot of shoes”

The much-discussed Leidingstraat Pipeline, the underground pipeline from the port of Antwerp to the Ruhr region in Germany, will not be built for the time being. The Flemish government announced this today. Good news for the city of Dest, which gave negative advice because one of the three possible routes for the Leidingstraat would pass through nature and agricultural areas in the sub-municipalities of Schaffen and Dieurn. So it is a temporary decision because a new investigation may be conducted. Read the Flemish government’s official press release here: At the suggestion of Flemish Environment Minister Zohal Demir, the Flemish government is discontinuing the existing spatial-regional implementation plan for the Antwerp-Albert-Ruhr pipeline. After many responses to additional consultations and research, it is clear that the project will have to be meticulously modified in order to (1) prevent all expropriation of buildings, (2) prevent damage to nature as much as possible and (3) make full use of the pipeline network for the climate and energy transition Towards fewer fossils. However, as there remains much uncertainty about the concrete use of the pipeline by industry, the project will not be restarted until the industry formally defines its intentions, timing, management, financial involvement and supportive policy via a ‘letter of intent’ that makes it known. In March-April 2021, a public consultation was held on the Initiation Note, the first step in the GRUP (Regional Spatial Implementation Plan). During this consultation, the Flemish government received 55 opinions, about 4,300 responses to various engagements and petitions, one of which received 6,000 signatures. The expected impact on homes and buildings was a major concern. Many of the responses were about the plan’s goals not being adequately aligned with the climate and energy transition. In addition, there were questions about impacts on nature, forest areas, agriculture, landscapes, heritage, the need for compensation, and the proposed methods. The planning team started working on this and organized round tables and discussions with experts from administration, academia and civil society. On this basis, the Flemish government decided to officially terminate the current regional spatial implementation plan for the Antwerp-Albert Canal-Ruhr pipeline. Since there is still a lot of uncertainty about the concrete use of the pipeline by the industry, Demir only wants to consider restarting when the industrial partners provide clarity. After all, he also failed to materialize in recent months. Demir demands a covenant (letter of intent) with the industrial partners. In this, the industrial partners must define their intentions and timing of using the pipeline network for new pipeline projects, for using the pipeline in partnership and for management (private, public or mixed), financing of the pipeline network and the necessary supporting policy. Three possible tracks were included in the original commencement note. Spatial research of these pathways has now shown that it is possible to severely reduce the impact on homes, businesses, nature and forests by modifying the pathway. Furthermore, with extensive modifications to the north and south lane, no homes or commercial buildings need to be expropriated. This is not possible with Central Road. That is why Demir completely ruled out this path. Therefore, only two roads remained: a northern and a southern one. As a result, the roads no longer existed in the lands of Beringen, Dielsen-Stockem, Hasselt, Leopoldsburg, Maaseik and Zandhoven anyway. Despite this, the government made no decision other than to stop the procedure. Demir also believes that the objective of the plan should be revised in order to ensure that the pipeline network contributes to the climate and energy transition goals of the companies in the Port of Antwerp and the Albert Canal Economic Network. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions and carbon neutrality, companies are turning to the use of renewable energy, hydrogen and carbon-neutral raw materials. In the coming years, companies will need new tubes for materials that enable the transition to more sustainable production. This should be anchored as much as possible, also in the LOI. After this decision, the ball is in Al-Sina’a’s court. The Flanders government will not proceed with resuming the project until a ‘letter of intent’ has been finalized with industry. In the meantime, all interested parties will be contacted.

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