Flanders Energy Minister's nuclear plans meet opposition

Flanders Energy Minister's nuclear plans meet opposition
Flemish Minister of Environment, Energy, Tourism and Justice Zuhal Demir pictured during a plenary session of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday 07 December 2022. BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

Flemish Minister of Energy Zuhal Demir wanted to begin talks with the Netherlands about Flanders participating in the planned construction of nuclear power plants near the Belgian border.

But not everyone is on board with this idea, including coalition partner CD&V, reported De Morgen.

"Instead of simply investing our money in old-generation Dutch nuclear power plants, we should invest maximum effort in research and development of new-generation nuclear power plants (so-called SMRs) in our own country," said CD&V chairperson Sammy Mahdi.

Open Vld MP Willem-Frederik Schiltz stressed that Demir isn't authorised to begin talks with the Netherlands on her own.

"Cooperation is always good, but preferably with the whole country: Flanders is authorized to ensure that we all install solar panels on our roof. The federal authority is responsible for nuclear power plants: negotiations are currently underway to ensure that the existing nuclear power plants can supply power in the coming year.  And we are already investing hundreds of millions of euros in research into new nuclear power stations. So working together: a great idea, but not Flanders alone," said Schiltz.

Rejected plans

With exploratory talks, Demir hopes to achieve an advantageous situation in which Flemish energy supplies will be strengthened long term.

Yet Madhi stressed that research and development are key for the country's energy supplies. The CD&V chairperson pointed to the expertise that Flanders itself has at SCK, the Nuclear Research Center in Mol.

"Let us use it to have small modular nuclear power plants of the latest generation in our country by 2045. And until 2045, we must use our current nuclear power plants as much as possible to ensure that the lights stay on. We have nuclear power plants running in our country, so why should we seek refuge elsewhere?" said Mahdi.

Related News

Demir's plans weren't met with open arms by its other coalition partner Open Vld either."We should be a bit apprehensive about giving our money and our know-how to the Dutch just like that," said an Open Vld member.

Political game

Opposition party Groen were also against Demir's proposal. "Apparently there is extra Flemish money for energy investments. Free that up for things that make energy more affordable/sustainable and for which you are authorized: insulation, solar panels on all roofs," tweeted Groen co-chairperson Jeremie Vaneeckhout.

"This has nothing to do with affordability or energy security. This is a purely political game," he said.

"A symbol letter. Work together or at least work on real solutions: Ventilus, permits for windmills, renewable energy, energy saving? In short: do your job."

His fellow co-chairperson Nadia Naji added to the criticism on Twitter: "Cheap 'score' in the media or perform its core tasks (insulating, electrifying homes, strengthening the grid...) The choice is easily made."

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.