Press release: 24 September 2021
Media alert: NGOs renew fight to block Antwerp plastics plant as Ineos readies new permit
What: Lawyers at ClientEarth, together with 12 environmental organisations, are objecting to the fresh application made by petrochemical giant Ineos for an environmental permit they will need to build ‘Project One’ – the €3bn expansion to the company’s plastics operation in Antwerp, Belgium.
A document will be submitted to the local authority outlining the groups’ objections.
The groups had already successfully taken legal actions forcing the company’s hand over pursuing the project, and Ineos withdrew its permit in March 2021.
When: The public consultation closes on Saturday, 25 September 2021.
Where: The ‘notice of objection’ is being submitted to the Deputation for the Provincial Government of Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium.
Who: Legal charity ClientEarth and 12 environmental organisations: Natuurbeschermingsvereniging De Steltkluut, Klimaatzaak, Greenpeace Belgium, Fairfin, BOS+, Recycling Network Benelux, Grootouders voor het Klimaat, Climaxi, Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL), WWF Belgium, Zero Waste Europe and Gallifrey Foundation.
Why: Ineos is seeking approval for a new environmental permit, which attempts to reflect the full environmental impacts of its planned plastic project in the Port of Antwerp. However, the environmental groups’ objection outlines why the permit’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) still fails to meet the legal requirements and should not be granted.
ClientEarth and its partners have consistently taken legal action against Ineos’s permitting procedure, arguing that the Flemish authorities’ failed to fully assess the environmental impacts of the expansion – a clear breach of EU and national laws. The groups’ initial legal case delayed the project by over a year.
In December 2020, the environmental organisations submitted a judicial appeal against the approval of Ineos’s previous permit for the woodland clearance needed for ‘Project One’. It came following an emergency injunction filed by the environmental groups in an urgent legal bid to prevent the felling of the forest. The approval of the injunction by the Council of Permit Disputes in Flanders, Belgium, meant Ineos was blocked from going ahead with the project until the judicial appeal is concluded.
In the judgment approving the NGOs’ emergency injunction, the Council for Permit Disputes stated that the environmental impact assessment, which forms the basis of Ineos’ deforestation permit, failed to sufficiently assess the full extent of the environmental and climate impacts the project will have as a whole, confirming the groups’ arguments.
In January, Ineos announced it would indefinitely suspend plans for part of the expansion. Financial statements confirm that this cancellation has already cost Ineos €118,5 million.
In March 2021, instead of waiting for the outcome of the judicial appeal, Ineos decided to pull its permit for the clearance of the woodland and prepare a new permit application instead. This is the application for which it is now seeking approval.
Read more about the implications of Project One on the environment and people here.
More information/media enquiries and interviews: If you are interested in speaking with one of ClientEarth’s lawyers or with one of the other organisations, please contact Bianca Vergnaud: email@example.com; +32 471 88 70 95.
ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.