25 July 2022
Our lawyers, together with 13 NGOs, are taking action to appeal the approval of petrochemicals giant INEOS’ plastics plant project in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium. And for good this time - we're going to court.
In 2020, we took emergency legal action against INEOS, over its plans to build two new plastics manufacturing units in the Port of Antwerp. The project, valued at €3bn, risked adding more plastic to an already saturated market. It was also set to cause irreversible damage to the surrounding area, through deforestation of a woodland protected for its wildlife, and by adding to the unsolved plastic pellet crisis affecting Antwerp’s shoreline and nature reserves.
We won an injunction against INEOS in November of that year – the court agreed there had been a lack of sufficient investigation by the authorities into the environmental impacts of the two new planned units. Our full appeal against the project’s initial permit approval was launched a month later. In it, we and our partner NGOs highlighted the regional authorities’ failure to assess the full scale of the project’s foreseen environmental impacts – a clear breach of EU and national laws.
In January 2021, INEOS announced that plans for one of the two units would be suspended indefinitely. A spokesperson cited a challenging market, with demand for propylene – a key ingredient of plastic – plummeting.
Later last year, INEOS began seeking approval for a new permit, which would attempt to reflect the full environmental impacts of its planned plastic project in the Port of Antwerp. But we, along with 13 other environmental organisations, objected, outlining that INEOS has so far failed to adequately show how the project would impact the climate, nature and surrounding air quality – all of which are likely to suffer significantly if the project goes ahead.
However, the Flemish authorities went ahead anyway, and, at the end of last year, gave the green light to INEOS’ fresh permit for ‘Project One’.
In January this year we appealed the authorities’ decision, but last month our challenge was dismissed. So we’re now taking the authorities to court to stop this project from going ahead once and for all. Our lawsuit argues that the Flemish authorities have failed in their legal duty to force the company to fully disclose the consequences of the project – making the approval illegal.
Tatiana said: “Make no mistake, investments like Project One are the fossil fuel industry’s ‘Plan B’ - using fossil gas to make plastics is an attempt to keep the petrochemicals industry alive. This would be Europe’s largest plastics investment in decades."
Projects like this also have not only devastating effects on the surrounding environment, but huge global impacts.
"The plastics that these projects help produce emit carbon dioxide at each stage of their lifecycle. Instead of putting a stop to this hugely destructive and unnecessary project, the authorities have welcomed it. As they have failed to acknowledge or share the inevitable repercussions of Project One, we're left with no choice but to take the project to court and have its approval overruled once and for all.”
Following the filing of our claim in July 2022, INEOS and the Flemish authorities will be notified. There will then be an exchange of responses before a hearing date is set.