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Ineos Project One Ethane Cracker: Flemish and Dutch Battle Over Permits and Environmental Impact

The Flemish government alone had to approve a nitrogen decree for Project One, the ethane cracker of the British chemical company Ineos. That decree was supposed to provide legal certainty, avoid a permit freeze and therefore save an investment of 4 billion euros.

But the Flemish nitrogen rules do not apply in the Netherlands. The provinces of Zeeland and North Brabant had already successfully had the first permit for Project One annulled for fear of the nitrogen impact of the factory on their nature, and more specifically on the Brabantse Wal nature reserve.

READ ALSO. New Ineos permit may also be annulled: “But that factory will eventually be built”

With a new detailed “appropriate assessment” of 800 pages, Project One was reauthorized early this year. Construction could continue to produce ethylene in the ethane cracker from 2026, intended for making plastics. Now that permit is once again leading to legal action.

Fifteen environmental associations are approaching the Council for Permit Disputes (RVVB). According to them, Ineos has “once again failed to share details about the real impacts of the project on people, nature and climate.”

“The changes in the new permit for the project are purely cosmetic. Project One remains a destructive plan that is completely unnecessary. Plastic is made with fossil fuels. That is why its production at any stage is disastrous for the climate,” says Tatiana Luján, lawyer at NGO ClientEarth.

READ ALSO. Ineos introduces a ‘recruitment pause’ less than a month after receiving a coveted permit

Battle for the arm

Despite intensive discussions between Flanders and the Netherlands and additional study work on the nitrogen impact, the provinces of Zeeland and North Brabant are also challenging the permit again. “We are not against economic development, but we are against it if it is at the expense of Zeeland’s nature,” he said.

Critical deposition values ​​in European protected nature reserves would still be exceeded. That’s why they want more detailed research. At the same time, the province of Zeeland is keeping an eye on things: they are still in consultation with Ineos. “Should an agreement be reached with Ineos, we will withdraw our appeal.”

Behind the scenes it is heard that Ineos would conclude a settlement with the provinces, with compensation. But the province of North Brabant is more certain. “The ethane cracker will result in too much nitrogen deposition in the already overloaded Natura 2000 area De Brabantse Wal.”

READ ALSO. “21 bird species have disappeared in the past 40 years”: the Brabantse Wal, the Dutch nature reserve that is suffocating Ineos

The Brabantse Wal. According to the province of North Brabant, this area will suffer from nitrogen emissions from the Ineos ethane cracker. — © Fred Debrock

“We have not received anything yet and must first analyze the situation,” says Nathalie Meert of Ineos. On Tuesday, Ineos CEO Jim Ratcliffe said in De Tijd: “We will simply continue and complete this.” The company can continue digging and building for the time being pending a new ruling. A ruling from the RVVB may take another year.

“Ill Will”

“We regret that both provinces make submitting appeals their main task, instead of pursuing a nitrogen policy to help Dutch farmers and entrepreneurs escape uncertainty and reduce their impact on Flanders,” the cabinet of the responsible minister said sharply. from Zuhal Demir Area (N-VA). “After all, with the Flemish nitrogen decree, Flanders ensures a reduced impact on the Netherlands, and vice versa, the homework is far from done. It seems like a diversion for that.”

A possible ruling is not anticipated, although it is emphasized that the permit remains enforceable for Ineos for the time being. So in principle it can continue to work. The two provinces indicate that their objection concerns an appeal for annulment, and not a request for suspension. Normally it takes about a year for the Council for Permit Disputes to make a decision.

Antwerp port alderman Annick De Ridder (N-VA) finds the renewed resistance “really mind-blowing”. “It cannot be due to ignorance. I rather classify it as ill will and opposition to the maintenance of sustainable industry in Western Europe. I have repeatedly called for us to sit at the table together. The Netherlands, through its provinces, has opted for the court route, which is noted.”

READ ALSO. Port alderman Annick De Ridder calls on Dutch provinces not to go to court in Ineos file: “They need us too”

According to the port aldermen, the nitrogen emissions that Project One will cause will be “extremely minimal and negligible”. De Ridder also bounces back and states that both Dutch provinces have companies “whose own standards are far above those of Ineos”, creating “a very large additional uncertainty for their own economy”. She ends with a sneer, namely that the Netherlands should follow the Flemish nitrogen decree as an example.

In the meantime, the list of transboundary environmental issues is getting longer. The Netherlands is not at all happy with the PFAS pollution that flows from Flanders into the Western Scheldt. And Demir recently sent a notice of default to the Dutch government and the chemical company Chemelot for discharging substances into the Meuse that would threaten Flemish drinking water production.

READ ALSO. 73 CEOs sign ‘Antwerp Declaration’: “Antwerp industry can become what Detroit became for the car sector: sidelined”

2024-02-21 21:19:28
#Ethane #cracker #Ineos #encounters #legal #protest #Dutch #provinces #nature #associations #demand #destruction #permit

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