Jeroen Bloemen, CEO of the investment company LRM which is behind the construction of the Terhills Resort, does not understand the criticism about cutting 30 hectares of forest. “They are exaggerating without knowing the facts”, says Bloemen. “30 hectares are indeed being cut for the holiday resort, but the valuable forest areas are being protected”, says Bloemen. “Legally we have to compensate 24 hectares of forest, but it has been decided to compensate 60 hectares. So there will be a new forest with greater biodiversity, as a result.”
Bloomen continues, “This still involves 219 hectares of former industrial area, for which a spatial implementation plan was drawn up in 2011 with a division of 100 hectares of nature reserve and 119 hectares of recreational area. All parties involved, including nature groups, have agreed to this. Under the management of Center Parcs, we want to develop a holiday resort of 60 hectares.”
“From a technical point of view it is true that 30 hectares of forests are being cut, but this is not a high-quality primeval forest, but a production forest, where the wood serves to support the tops of mine pits. Certain strips contain more valuable nature, but they are safeguarded.”
In the holiday resort there will also be seven hectares of new waterways, such as canals and forest rivers. Efforts will also be made to increase biodiversity. Bloemen says that his investment company has a support base at Natuurpunt Vlaanderen (an independent volunteer association that works for the protection of nature in Flanders). “Locally, we also have 100 percent support for this project with all advisory bodies”, Bloemen concludes.
The Terhills Resort has 250 holiday homes and will provide 230 jobs. LRM which is a venture capital company and part of the Flemish government, is investing 75 million euro.
The Brussels Times