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Controversy reigns over proposed McDonald's in Tervuren

10:57 27/08/2020

More than 3,000 people in Tervuren are fighting plans to build a new McDonald’s outlet next to the British School of Brussels and Museum of Central Africa.

A decision by Tervuren’s environment service on McDonald's application to add to its 88 existing restaurants in Belgium is expected on 11 September. 

The online petition, submitted last week to Tervuren’s mayor Jan Spooren and alderman for mobility and the environment Bram Peters, has 3,170 signatures. There is also a website and Facebook page with 463 members created to mobilise supporters and pass on information. 

The petition was set up by two students attending one of the six schools containing 4,000 pupils near the proposed site. Excess littering and increased unhealthy eating would result from the new McDonald's, they say.

The text of the petition is nothing if not poetic. Imagine taking a walk in Tervuren park and "the sound of plastic squashed between your bike wheels will cover the sound of the birds", they say. 

McDonald's spokeswoman Isabelle Verdeyen defended the scheme: "Since the opening of the first restaurant in Belgium in 1978, opposition is rare. Often people are pleased and keen."

Indeed, there is also a Facebook page with 230 members entitled "We do want a McDo in Tervuren", she said. 

Verdeyen also expressed willingness to engage with Tervuren residents to find solutions and respond to their concerns. Any queries can be addressed to McInfo@be.mcd.com

She added that McDonald's was working on communication to stop littering and improve the sorting of waste. It has already cut single-use plastic, for example banning plastic straws in France. And while “a hamburger is a hamburger,” the company also offers alternatives: salads, wraps and veggie burgers, she said. 

Finally, she maintains, the products are 98% European: “Although, as Belgium is a small country, ingredients do come from France, the Netherlands and Ireland.” 

McDonald's normally opens four restaurants a year in Belgium, she said. It had planned to open nine in 2020. But so far, only one, in Ath, Hainaut province, has been built, due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Written by Liz Newmark