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Press release Doel 2020, December 5, 2015

Port of Antwerp can not dig Saeftinghedock

Ruling by the Belgian Supreme Council of State

Friday, November 20th the Council of State, the highest judicial body in Belgium, has announced that the plans for a huge Saeftinghedock in the port of Antwerp are being suspended and the village Doel remains. The village Doel is already being threatened in its existence for over 17 years for expansion of Antwerps port. Plans of the Flemish government to wipe the village of the map have thus been wiped of the table for the fourth time in 15 years, by the Council of State, the highest judicial body in Belgium.

We quote: 'on the risk of a definitive loss of the community in Doel, the Council suspends the plan that concerns the entire 'Saefthingedock Zone' wherein Doel-village is located. Additional, the plan is suspended also in so far it relates on the areas that lie immediatly south and north of this 'Saefthingedock Zone', and to which this community stretches as well according to the Council.'

Plans for an expansion of the Port of Antwerp have been crossed before by court ruling. For the past years the Flemish Government has bypassed those judgements with new plans at every turn. Now it looks like the opportunities to safe the Saefthingedock with new tricks are exhausted. Chances are very high that following the suspension, the Council of State will destroy the plans definitively.

The inhabitants of the region are pleased with the verdict. The Saeftinghedock was supposed to become the largest dock in the World and formed an immense threat to the liveability of the region. Already now in and around Antwerp there are huge traffic jams on a daily basis. With a Saeftinghedock the entire region around Antwerp threatened to get stuck.

The Saeftinghedock came especially on request of shipping company MSC that next year moves from the Delwaidedock, a containerterminal on the Rightbank, to the Deurganckdock on the Leftbank. MSC enjoys a preferential treatment in Antwerp and thus a new container tidal dock was planned next to the Deurganckdock on the mere request of MSC. This was planned loosely over the historical village of Doel and get more than four kilometers (2.5 miles) inland from the cultural-historically valuable polder.

MSC develops until now most of its activities to the Delwaidedok, a fully equipped container terminal on the Rightbank of the Scheldt. That the Antwerp Port Authorities want to release for a brand new chemistry factory funded by donors from Saudi Arabia. Last week the potential investment of the Saudi's came heavily under fire in the Flemish Parliament. According to several politicians, given recent developments the economic relations with Saudi Arabia have to be revaluated thoroughly. The Flemish regional parliament is fully responsible for port politics.

Antwerp doesn't need the Saeftinghedok. The Deurganckdok alone has a capacity that is larger than the annual container sales of the entire port of Antwerp... Furthermore, a decline for the following years is expected in maritime container traffic. The austerity measures recently decided by Maersk - the largest container shipping company in the world - are a direct result of these expectations. Antwerp has enough capacity to double its container handling. And now with the present cooperation between Antwerp and Zeebrugge, the empy terminals in Zeebrugge can be put to better use.