Energy generator Electrabel has begun a campaign to reverse a decision by Flemish Brabant province to refuse an application to construct a gas-fired power station in Vilvoorde.
The decision was made, against all expectations, by the province’s permanent deputation. At first Electrabel did not react, since it had yet to receive official word from the province.
Now, however, the company has studied the case file, and has written to the deputation to explain that after a ‘brief but thorough reading’ of the file, it concludes that the province’s arguments do not hold water on many points.
In particular, the company takes issue with the province’s allegation of “violation of the nature test” and an alleged misunderstanding of the Flemish government’s rules on nitrogen output.
In its defence, Electrabel points to the expert advice they have received, and a positive opinion from the province’s environmental permits commission, as well as the Agency for Nature and Woodland.
From the motivations given, the company said, “it appears obvious that the motives for the refusal decision are not only incorrect, but also to a large extent arbitrary, since the motivation is not supported by reality.”
Electrabel is now calling for an emergency meeting of the deputation to take place to undo the decision, warning that only a few days remain when that can happen.
The decision has already been criticised by Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen), the federal minister for energy, who reprimanded the deputation for allegedly taking its decision on political grounds.
Groen and its fellow Ecolo are in favour of the construction of gas-fired power stations, to help make it possible for Belgium eventually to close down its nuclear power stations. And Groen, in this case, has accused N-VA, represented on the deputation, of using its place to shoot down those plans.
"In a constitutional state, one might hope that well-founded technical-legal motives would prevail," Electrabel said.
“After taking cognizance of the refusal decision and its ‘motivation’, Engie-Electrabel can only conclude that the refusal was indeed based on other than legal reasons.”