Flanders pours €3.85 million into asbestos removal in 200 schools

Flanders pours €3.85 million into asbestos removal in 200 schools
Flemish climate minister Zuhal Demir. Credit: Belga

The Flemish Government is putting €3.85 million towards asbestos removal in 200 schools across the region of Flanders, according to a press release from Flemish Minister of Environment Zuhal Demir.

Additionally, 780 extra asbestos inventories will be carried out in school buildings over the next four years.

Both initiatives are part of the Flemish goal to be asbestos-safe by 2040.

“[Asbestos] is still very common in our buildings and on our roofs,” said Demir.

“We are now allocating an unprecedentedly large budget for it, which will benefit the quality of life and health of many people.”

Demir hopes that the asbestos removal efforts will also provide much needed work for those in the construction sector, which she says “can use all the push it can get” after being hit by the coronavirus crisis.

“This way we ensure more roof and facade renovations in Flanders, which in addition to lowering people's energy bills, also provides additional employment for the construction sector and reduces emissions,” Demir said.

The extra resources were welcomed by Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts.

“Asbestos in school buildings is an unhealthy legacy from the past,” said Weyts.

“The Flemish Government is not responsible for that legacy, but it is taking responsibility for eliminating the problem step by step. In recent years, we have already intervened in many hundreds of schools and much more is in the pipeline. We also continue to encourage schools to better identify the problem and tackle it faster.”

More than 1,700 schools have already applied for asbestos inventory and removal.

The additional funding will allow for 780 asbestos inventories and 200 asbestos removals in schools at half the expected cost in the next four years.

Apart from school buildings, there have already been record amounts of home asbestos removal in the whole of Flanders, along with asbestos removal in youth centres via the local authorities, according to Demir’s office.

The extra money for the removal of asbestos comes from the Relanceplan Vlaamse Veerkracht, or Flemish Resilience Relay Plan.

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