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Press release Doel 2020, August, 24, 2008

The Village Doel resists official's disinformation campaign

Residents Coalition 'Doel2020' is planning new actions

During the past week, an enormous amount of disinformation has been released into the world. A lot of it about the villagers of Doel and of course as well about the activists and their sympathizers. Well, let us put the record straight, there are still 400 people living in Doel. Thereof 200 remain in the actual village itself, other people live in farms and homes spread out over the region. In the disinformation campaign that was waged against us last week, there was a great deal made of the fact that some residents of Doel are 'blow in's'; and that should justify the brutal violence and siege of Monday the 18th?

Part of the remaining residents of Doel have indeed been living there 'only' since a few years. That does not take away of the strength of the argument of the residents coalition, nor does it undermine the fact that there is still a sizeable group of 'authentic' villagers remaining in Doel who live in their own homes - and wish to remain in their own homes - but, however, are forced to look on while the devolved Flemish government brutally reshapes their environment - legally still a designated residential area - into a lunar landscape.

The village and region receive every year many day tourists, walking enthusiasts, cycle fanatics, during the summer months the number of these visitors would be well over a 100.000. The annual 'Scheldewijdingsfeesten', a village festival, last month received 10.000 visitors.

The Flemish Executive is using a heavy handed approach as enforcement tactics to override the rightful will of the villagers. This is scandalous. This approach is not acceptable in any democracy and constitutional state. If the vision of the Flemish executive is crystal-clear, why do they need to resort to these brutal measures?

One of the main problems in this dossier is the fact that the Flemish Executive excels in the creation of 'non binding decisions'. In other words, decisions that cannot be questioned in the court or do not have to stand up to any scrutiny what so ever. Quite some power wielding when a government can use it in the demolisionprocess of family homes.

At this moment in time it is a Flemish Executive policy for the whole region - 50 to 60 square km - to buy homes and farm buildings with the intend to demolish them. This policy is not restricted to Doel but this happens also in other villages like Prosperpolder, Kieldrecht and Verrebroek. The area in which this policy seems to be valid stretches right up to the Dutch border, but seems to exclude the village centre of Kieldrecht.

Another soar point is the non communication from the Flemish Executive. Villagers, farmers and activists maintain that there needs to be a really good reason and arguments for demolishing an inhabited 800 year old historical village. From official side nobody has ever shown any plans to the residents about the possible future of what is now their village, their homes. It seems that the Flemish Executive is in the opinion that residents have no right to know what the plan is for their residential area, their village, their home. Or is there no plan at all beyond the demolition works?

More actions are planned in the days ahead.

Concerning future political action: all members of the Flemish Parliament (Assembly) will be addressed and asked to take up their responsibility, stop the futile violent approach from the Executive. They will also be asked to show more scrutiny in this dossier and close all the legal loopholes that the Executive is creating. Laws should apply to everybody and every institution in equal measures. Also every member of the Flemish Parliament will receive a file on the legal anomalies concerning the recent spate of demolitions.

The residents have also started a series of new legal procedures against the demolitions. Facts show, clear as day, that the current works are in contravention with the planning laws and regulations. While the individual demolision orders might be regular and lawful it does not mean that one is allowed to demolish a whole street and destroy the infrastructure. Therefor one needs a change in the designation of the zone. Changing the designation of the zone is still subject to a public enquiery.

The villagers of Doel are also very suspicious and asking serious questions as to the objectivity of the currently running procedures. It has been noted that the regional civil servant responsible for demolition orders/permissions in the planningbureau literally copies the argumentation of 'Maatschappij Linkeroever' (Corporation of the Left Bank). Spelling mistakes included...

This is one of the reasons why the Residents Association Doel 2020 will also lodge an official complaint to the Flemish Ombudsman.