- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Greenpeace takes regions to court over air quality
From Flanders Today: Antwerp neighbourhood organisations stRaten-Generaal and Ademloos – known for their tenacious, and ultimately successful, fight against the city’s original plan for the Oosterweel road link – have joined Greenpeace Belgium in filing a legal complaint against the governments of Flanders and Wallonia.
The complaint claims that the governments are doing too little to meet European norms for air quality in the worst-affected places, such as Antwerp. “Exhaust from cars – especially diesel-fuelled cars – are the main source of air pollution,” said Greenpeace in a statement. “Belgian cardiologists have already pointed to a direct link between exhaust fumes and an increased risk of heart attack. That is why they called for banning cars that run on diesel earlier this year. But this is not enough for our politicians, who are still waiting to implement sustainable mobility measures.”
Greenpeace had already filed a complaint last year, claiming that neither Flanders nor Wallonia had taken proper measurements of air quality and, therefore, did not communicate any potential consequences of it to the public.
Flemish environment minister Joke Schauvliege told VRT that she was not surprised by the move by the three organisations, as they had already approached her ministry about the issue. While she admitted that air quality does need to improve, she said that the government had already taken many steps in that direction.
'Strong environmental policy'
“We have a very strong policy in terms of the environment,” she said. “Greenpeace is asking us to change our plans for mobility, energy use and consumption very drastically. But these things take time. Air quality improves every year. Greenpeace wants it all to go faster, but a policy must be carried out realistically. You can’t ask people to abandon their cars from one day to the next.”
According to European law, governments must draw up a plan to tackle pollution where it exceeds EU norms. This is the case in Antwerp and in other cities, but no plan has been drawn up, according to a Greenpeace spokesperson.
“In our judicial summons, we demand that the Flemish government draw up a plan to address the air quality problem, and make it accessible to the public, within two months,” he said.
Photo: Dirk Waem/BELGA