Citizens groups urge politicians to state their positions on widening of the Ring
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    Citizens groups urge politicians to state their positions on widening of the Ring

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The Bruxsel’AIR citizens collective has called on political leaders in Brussels to clearly state their positions on the widening of the Ring, to which the Flemish Government has already given its green light. The collective’s members say they are worried that “this dossier is moving ahead little by little without real public debate,” Bruxsel’AIR wrote in a letter on Friday to mayors and aldermen/women in charge of mobility in Brussels Region, Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort and the Ministers of Environment, Céline Fremault, and Mobility, Pascal Smet.

    Work on widening the Brussels Ring by creating additional lanes separating transit traffic from local traffic along a 20-kilometre stretch, is scheduled to start in 2019 and is projected to take at least four years.

    In its letter, the collective, which has been carrying out awareness-building actions on better air quality in Brussels for over a year, describes point by point why the project seems to contradict the capital’s sustainable development plans and objectives as laid out in the Iris 2 Mobility Plan or the recent Sustainable Regional Development Plan, PRDD.

    Whether it’s about air quality, health, mobility, climate change or the city’s attractiveness, increasing the flow of vehicles in and around Brussels will have a negative impact on the capital and its inhabitants, Bruxsel’AIR feels.

    “Transport is particularly responsible for air pollution: 67% of nitrogen oxide emissions and emissions of PM10 fine particles in Brussels come from that sector,” the collective stressed, quoting statistics available on the site of Bruxelles Environnement, the capital region’s environmental service.

    “It is also to be recalled that greenhouse gas emissions by the transport sector have increased by 28.2% in Belgium since 1990, whereas many analyses show that our country needs to reduce its emissions significantly to attain the climate objectives (laid down in the Paris Agreement, Editor’s note),” the collective added. “Not to forget that increasing the capacity of a section of the Ring will inevitably have a suction effect and worsen the congestion problem of this road.” 

    The collective is asking politicians to state their positions by the 20th of April at the latest. Their responses will be posted on the Bruxsel’AIR website to feed into the debate, it says.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times