UK anti-fracking campaigners have joined calls to block an expansion plan by the petrochemical company Ineos in Belgium.
A dozen groups are among almost 70 signatories of an open letter urging a regional minister to object to the scheme.
Ineos, about 60% owned by the British industrialist Sir Jim Ratcliffe, wants to invest 3 billion euros in a new ethane cracker and a propane dehydrogenation plant in the port of Antwerp. The facility, known as Project One, is expected to use fracked ethane imported from the US.
The Flemish administration gave a positive opinion for the environmental permit, despite local opposition. This gave the green light for the start of Project One, including the removal of around 50ha of woodland.
The Flemish environment minister now has until the end of October 2020 to ratify the advice.
The UK signatories of the letter comprise Frack Free groups from Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, York and Villages, Ryedale, Kirby Misperton and Sussex, along with Frack Off London, Friends of the Earth Falkirk and Scotland, UK Youth Climate Coalition, Weald Acton Group and Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green.
The letter says woodland clearance should not be allowed until the permit for the Ineos facility is finally approved.
It also warns:
“We cannot address the climate crisis if we continue the expansion of fossil fuels and relating infrastructure.
“The Project One of Ineos proposed for the port of Antwerp would be detrimental to our efforts to tackle the climate crisis by creating new markets for petrochemicals derived from fracking, but also contribute to localized public health impacts from harmful air pollutants, and the loss of biodiversity and natural habitats.
“Every facility, like the proposed expanded Port of Antwerp Ineos one, that relies on fracked gas is a direct contribution to a dramatic increase in global warming, a constant production of plastic pollution and an involvement in human rights abuses along the supply chain.
“Everyone involved must be held responsible according to the precautionary, preventive and polluter pays principles of the European Union.”
Earlier this month, members of environmental groups from across Europe occupied land earmarked for Project One for a day.
29 October 2020: The Flemish environment minister grants the permit for the start of Project One.