In Dilsen-Stokkem in Limburg, a valuable forest must make room for a holiday park. Flemish Member of Parliament Elisabeth Meuleman (Groen) fears “ecological havoc” and sharply criticises Joke Schauvliege (CD & V), Flemish minister of the Environment, who accuses Groen of playing politics. There have been plans for a new holiday park (Terhills resort) on land of the Limburg investment company LRM. To construct that park, forest area has to be removed for the bungalows, according to Meuleman.
She says, “This is painfully ironic. The construction of this holiday park that wants to bring the happy few closer to nature will cause ecological havoc. Moreover, what remains of the nature reserve will only be accessible for a fee. The hiking trails around the lake at Terhills, one of the biggest tourist attractions, will no longer be accessible to the public.”
According to the Groen politician, until recently the forests were on the list of most endangered forests. Meuleman says: “In March 2017, the forest suddenly disappeared from the map. This shows how seriously this government takes conservation. With enough money on the table, nature has no rights anymore.”
According to Meuleman, her (Schauvliege’s) policy is “as leaky as a sieve. She protects nature as an accountant would: a bit is subtracted and a bit is added. Unfortunately it does not work like that. In a hundred years we don’t get back the forests in Dilsen-Stokkem. Nature disappears, animals flee and a few hectares of new trees do not solve that problem.”
Minister Schauvliege is displeased with the criticism. According to her spokespeople, “This is purely a Limburg initiative, with which the minister has nothing to do and has not made any decisions. The continued reference to Joke Schauvliege is playing political games.”