The Parking C car park in the Heysel complex north of Brussels should be turned into an emergency parking facility for truckers heading for the Belgian ports to cross to the UK if the ports themselves become too congested, Flemish mobility minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) has proposed.
Although the Heysel complex of exhibition halls, the Kinepolis cinema complex and the Atomium is owned by the City of Brussels, Parking C is situated on the territory of Grimbergen, and is in the Flemish region.
That became an important issue when the city and the football union had plans to build a new national football stadium on the site – plans which ran up against difficulties in obtaining planning permission, and which ultimately had to be scrapped.
Now Peeters has suggested turning the parking lot into a refuge for lorry drivers heading for the UK, who are likely to run into problems at the ports during busy times, as lines for lorries taking ferries across to the UK exceed port capacity.
Parking C feeds directly onto the E40, but could only become useful if there were a working information system in place that could warn drivers in time that the port facilities were saturated.
Brexit, which came into force on January 1, means extra customs formalities for goods crossing to and from the UK to the European continent, and that in turn leads to long queues. Britain has earmarked huge sites for waiting trucks on the English side of the Channel.
The first option for the Flemish government would be to find space In West and perhaps even East Flanders, closer to the ports themselves. But that may not be sufficient. Parking C offers the advantage that it is already in place, and would help avoid paving over another large patch of green land elsewhere.
“If the alternative options to car parks and open spaces near border posts are saturated, extra space will be set aside in various phases to temporarily park trucks destined for the United Kingdom,” Peeters’ spokesperson Aidan Reiquin told Het Nieuwsblad.