Why is this consultation being undertaken?
Under the terms of the 1991 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention), and Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention), Member States are required to engage in transboundary public consultation in respect of projects likely to have significant effects on the environment of neighbouring States as part of the environmental impact assessment of a proposed development. For this purpose, the Member State in whose territory the project is intended to be carried out is required to send to the affected State, no later than when informing its own public, a description of the project and any relevant information on its possible transboundary impact.
The Doel nuclear power plants are located near the Port of Antwerp in Belgium and are owned and operated by ENGIE Electrabel. Units 1 & 2 at Doel began operation in 1975. Belgium adopted a policy aimed at phasing out the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation and in this regard, a law passed in 2003 that stipulated that nuclear power plants would be deactivated 40 years after their industrial commissioning.
This meant that Doel 1 & 2 were scheduled to cease operations in 2015. However, the 2003 law provided for a decree to issue to allow NPPs to remain operational in the event of a threat to security of electricity supply. In 2015, a Federal law passed extending the life time operation of the Doel 1 & 2 NPPs by 10 years, requiring deactivation in 2025.
An environmental Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) challenged the 2015 law that granted an extension to the operational life of the Doel 1 & 2 NPPs in the Constitutional Courts of Belgium. The Constitutional Court in turn, referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling (Case C-411/17). In summary, the outcome of that case, is that the decision to extend the life time operation of the NPPs constitutes a ‘project’ within the meaning of the EIA Directive, therefore an environmental impact assessment is required along with the associated transboundary consultations.
For practical reasons, Belgian authorities decided to prepare two separate Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), but have advised that they will need to be evaluated in conjunction. One EIR relates solely to the decision to extend the operational life of Doel 1 & 2. The second EIR concerns the nuclear safety-related improvement works that includes the construction of three new buildings on the site:
- two buildings for hosting the Containment Filtered Venting System of the nuclear plant
- one building housing the new fire extinguisher pump station
How to participate
The correspondence from the Belgian Ministry of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development can be accessed in the “Documents” section below, together with the documents provided for the purposes of the transboundary consultation. A printed copy of these documents will be available for public inspection during office hours in each local authority office from Wednesday 28 April 2021. However, due to the effects of COVID19 inspection of these documents may be by appointment only. It is advised that contact is made with your local authority prior to travelling to view the documentation, in order to clarify if you need to make an appointment. A copy may be purchased from the authority at a fee not exceeding the reasonable cost of copying.
Making a submission or observation
A submission or observation in relation to the potential transboundary environmental effects of the development may be made in writing or by e-mail to the Planning Section in the planning authority for the area in which the person lives or the head office of the body concerned is located (see contact details for each planning authority at the bottom of this page). All submissions or observations must –
1. be titled “Transboundary environmental public consultation – Doel 1 & 2 Nuclear Power Plants”,
2. include the name and address of the person, authority or body making the submission or observations and the name of the person, if any, acting on behalf of that person, authority or body, and;
3. include reasons, considerations and arguments on which the submission or observations is based.
Please also refer to “Terms and Conditions” and “What will we do with your submissions or observations” below.
Deadline for submissions or observations
The deadline for the receipt of written submissions or observations by the planning authority under this transboundary consultation process is close of business on Wednesday 23 June 2021 at the latest. Submissions or observations will not be individually acknowledged or responded to by the planning authority. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will not accept submissions or observations in relation to the consultation.
What will be done with your submissions?
After the period for making a submission or observations closes, each planning authority will consult with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. As part of this consultation with the Minister, each planning authority will send on copies of the submissions or observations received and a summary of same to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Once this process is complete, each planning authority will forward to the Belgian Ministry of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development all submissions or observations it receives through this public consultation and a summary of same.
Submissions or observations received or a summary of same may be published on the website of the Belgian Ministry of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, and may be published on the website of the planning authority concerned. The Department for Housing, Local Government and Heritage will not publish any submissions or observations or a summary of same.
Contact details for submissions or observations
Contact details for the planning authority are set out below:
Planning authority and weblink
Consultation e-mail address
Meath County Council,
046 909 7000