Legal

Court suspends Ineos’s permit for work on Antwerp chemical complex

A court in Belgium has temporarily blocked the permit needed by Ineos to begin work on a major new chemical complex in Antwerp.

Occupation of Ineos Project One land at Antwerp Port, 3 October 2020. Photo: Ineos will fall

Lawyers representing ClientEarth and 13 other European environmental organisations successfully filed an emergency injunction to prevent the clearance of woodland for the site.

Ineos, the leading holder of shale gas licences in the UK, wants to build a €3billion ethane cracker and a propane dehydrogenation plant on land in the Port of Antwerp.

If approved, the facility, known as Project One, is expected to use fracked ethane imported from the US. The cracker would create ethylene, the base material for plastics, resins, adhesives and many other synthetic products. Propane dehydrogenation produces propylene, also used to make plastics.

Permit suspension

On 29 October 2020, the Flemish minister granted the permit to Ineos to clear 56 hectares of woodland.

The decision to suspend the permit was made by the Council for Permit Disputes in Flanders on 13 November 2020.

The council’s judgement said the environmental impact assessment in the permit failed to assess sufficiently the full extent of the environmental impacts of the whole Ineos project.

ClientEarth lawyers had argued that “slicing up the permit” for different parts of the development breached national and EU environmental laws.

Maria Jolie Veder, a lawyer for ClientEarth, said:

“The judgment shows that developing a project without fully assessing its impact cannot be allowed.

“Issuing permits for separate phases of a project without assessing the environmental impacts of the project as a whole blatantly disregards national and EU environmental law.

“[the] judgment clearly shows that these manoeuvres will not hold before a court. We will continue to argue that this project should never have been allowed to go ahead so as to protect people and the planet from the irreversible damage it would cause.”

The permit will be suspended until a decision is made by the council.

A spokesperson for Ineos told World Today News:

“There were technical motives that justified the split, motives that had received the green light from all authorities.

“Moreover, the EIA for the preparatory works already contains a preview of the study of the full environmental impact. But that was apparently not enough. ”

In an interview in September with the Belgian newspaper, De Tijd, John McNally, the chief executive of Project One, said the company wanted to begin earth works this year.

Campaign

This was the latest stage in a campaign by environmental groups across Europe which oppose Ineos’s plans in Antwerp.

Last month, a dozen UK groups were among almost 70 signatories of an open letter to the regional minister. They said the woodland clearance should not be allowed until the permit for the Ineos facility had been finally approved.

Also in October 2020, individual campaigners temporarily occupied the proposed site.

The Port of Antwerp is next to a Natura 2000 site, part of a network of EU nature protection areas. They include core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species and some rare natural habitats.

Updated 16/11/2020: Cost of ethane cracker corrected to €3 billion

29 replies »

  1. No need for modern chemical plants in Europe. We can carry on producing ethylene and propylene using naphtha crackers which produce twice the amount of carbon emissions, or we can revert back to using paper, glass, aluminium etc. and triple our carbon emissions, material and energy use, or we can export our industries and emissions once again and let the investment, jobs and tax revenue benefit the Chinese economy.

    • Or we can, together, cease to regard ethylene and propylene as a final solution to the problem of packaging and continue to research less environmentally destructive solutions, processes which might help the global economy, including the Chinese.

      • The proposed plant uses research and new technology that would enable it to produce ethylene and propylene, chemicals that have so many beneficial uses for mankind, with less than half the environmental consequences of anything else currently operating in Europe.

        It’s a step forward in the right direction. One which will continue despite efforts from some to pull back from science and progress.

  2. “The judgment shows that developing a project without fully assessing its impact cannot be allowed. Surrey County Council take note.

  3. Meanwhile, Ineos showed up quite well helping to win the F1 with Lewis and Merc.

    The Luddites will, no doubt, be wanting chariot racing to replace F1.

    (I suspect DoD are also equally out of date, by some generations, with their costs regarding the Antwerp investment! Independent, but not that accurate.)

    Have Tesla replanted the forest they trashed in Germany PRIOR to receiving consent?? Hypocrisy, or just attempted deflection?

    • ” Ineos showed up quite well helping to win the F1 ” I suspect that the Ineos contribution to F1 was to throw money at it to achieve some positive advertising by having their name showing on the car and clothing. Surely a more substantial argument could be found in your constant support of Ineos and their planning applications to build infrastructure that encourages the increasing use of plastics and their associated environmental hazards.

      • Well, Keith, you should do some research on the materials used by Merc. to build and win F1, and then your false suspicions would be replaced by accurate facts.

        If you want to look for £millions being donated where there is little direct product linkage then perhaps you might find other examples, such as the money given to assist treatment of wounded service personnel?

        There are both examples from Ineos. You seem confused by that.

        Meanwhile, you can also continue to utilize plastic to make your inaccurate statements, so my question has an answer emerging-hypocrisy.

        Looks as if some do not need encouragement to use plastics-which is not the issue, but has to be presented as such by those who think others will be confused. The correct disposal/recycling of plastic is the issue and is quite easy to do. Indeed, not far from Antwerp they have been digging up plastic that was dumped in landfill to recycle it now the technology has been developed. Wonder who finds such solutions-could it be the chemical engineers? Good job the plastic can be removed from landfill-should make some space for wind turbine blades! LOL.

        Quiet now-wouldn’t want to identify that many alternatives are not as environmentally friendly as some would suggest, would we?

          • Really, Keith? One of the world’s most polluting companies? Please provide the comparison that supports that-good luck with that. Ironic really as this very investment of 3 BILLION EURO, is intended to produce an installation that is a big improvement on older plants in respect of pollution!

            You don’t know much about companies, do you Keith!? Likewise F1! Likewise recycling!

            Likewise accurate statements.

            Can’t see that deserves any credit-but it is your choice.

            (If you DYOR you might just find a letter from Sir Jim to the EU outlining the environmental benefits that accrue from new chemical facilities compared to older ones. So, this site will be developed as there are good environmental grounds to support it, together with the huge investment into Antwerp. Antwerp can calculate billions versus millions. They certainly could when I worked for a company based there.)

            • The SEPA reports on the pollution at the Ineos Grangemouth plant are a useful starting point. Martin, your patronising, dismissive attitude persuades me to terminate this.

              • I think that is a good idea, Keith.

                Grangemouth is a relatively small facility in world terms-and very “clean” in comparison to many, so not a useful starting point-other than to do some retreating from! It is also much improved since Ineos bought it.

                You confuse patronising with presentation of FACTS. Who that patonises and who finds it helpful is down to levels of knowledge and willingness to be interested in the subject-and not to be confused with imparting fake news.

      • Well, Jono, you could try competing with Sir Jim, as he has interests in endurance sports AS WELL! So, not weak at all Jono. Weak that you were trying to make a point that was already shown by the facts to be erroneous! Many can multi task and not controlled by dogma that fits blinkers to knowledge.

        Maybe the INEOS ICAN Foundation will give you a few athletes to watch in the future?? Good job there are some out there looking after the health of our youngsters to get towards that level, also looking after the health of our military personnel (Defence Medical Rehab. Centre) and stocks of salmon. (Could go on, but do your own research and you may be surprised, but will then resort to greenwashing nonsense .)

  4. Trashing our world in favour of toxic materials can never be a solution to the problems we face.
    I am sure Ineos will find a way round the temporary permit difficulties by throwing euros at it like they usually do but they should not be allowed to get away with it.

  5. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/16/india-oil-well-fire-extinguished-after-five-months

    Good old oil wells – this one out of control for five months spewing GHGs and toxins into the air.

    We all know that no energy source is completely perfect or without possible impacts.

    I do wonder why supporters of fracking seem to want to pitch renewables against fossil fuels. It isn’t a competition. The reality is we have to tackle climate change and transition away from fossil fuels, end of.

    And just because a polluting company or owner of such a company donates to sport or good causes does not reduce their carbon footprint or alter the nature or impact of their business operations. Some industries have actively done so to try and detract from the harm their product causes – like tobacco sponsoring sport! So one can understand a degree of scepticism towards INEOS’ sponsorship of sport. And numerous billionaires donate to charities and are philanthropists. Look at the Gates Foundation, $46 billion dwarfs anything INEOS and JR have done, but again it isn’t a competition. And in the eyes of many it is a pretty weak argument to make.

  6. You are correct about the weak argument, KatT.

    So, why do the antis REPEATEDLY use it?

    Philanthropy is indeed widespread, and operated by many wealthy individuals who still pay the tax they are required to pay, (usually, like the rest of us, but no more-no Government spends money as efficiently as a businessman does) and THEN decide to give even more back to communities. Yet, for Sir Jim it is greenwashing, for someone else it is applauded. That is just an anti mechanism to create a fake demon – very weak and medieval.

    Transition away from fossil fuels is not an issue. It will continue, as will population growth and use of energy. So, fossil fuels will be around for many decades to come and the world is still moving towards peak use of oil/gas-including India- so quite a long way to go. Perhaps you would prefer India to continue to deplete their forests for an energy source and kill off the remaining tigers? Environmentally sound?

    If alternatives were so good, why have fossil fuels been so successful? It is NOT to do with subsidies or lobbying. It is to do with advantages that fossil fuels present and most alternatives do not, or do so at an unacceptable cost. Unacceptable costs end up causing health issues and deplete resources to support the environment.

    Mr. Gates made a lot of his money out of plastic, KatT!!

    Perhaps, AGAIN, you have demonstrated that life is not as simplistic as you often try and present.

  7. It really is time that these proponents of fracked gas, oil extraction, plastic proliferation,

    etc. extricated their heads from the sand and realised that their obtuseness which mirrors

    that so evident in the US renders them complicit in those scourges threatening our

    planet. They seem unaware of the anthropogenic nature of climate breakdown furthered

    by the continuing extractive activities of the fossil fuel companies and by the burning of

    their products. They appear ignorant of the extent of the pollution of aquatic life

    engendered by the presence of immense quantities of plastics in our oceans, much of

    which will make its way into the human digestive system. All this and a constant barrage

    of insulting epithets, such as ‘“hypocrites”, levelled at all those who dare to disagree with

    them or question their arguments. We have become all too familiar with their methods

    and tactics over the last few months, turning their own greenwashing into yet another

    baseless accusation against their opponents. It’s so childish.

  8. What is childish, 1720, is for those who have one viewpoint to claim the moral high ground-and then fall flat on their faces by stating fake information, but trying to justify it on the basis they are morally superior.

    No one is ignorant, as far as I can see, around plastics in our oceans. So, keep the stuff out of our oceans. If I can do so, then others can. I hope you are one of them. The FACT that it is in the oceans is a human issue that can quite easily be solved-just as sewage in our oceans can be solved (just stop the “morally superior” from dumping in the Atlantic from their yachts!)

    So, the “morally superior” can continue to use plastic to claim they are against plastic, and that is the adult thing to do? No-hypocritical. I am not against plastic and feel quite comfortable utilising plastic, but I also like trees and plant quite a number, when I can, because I like trees and what they do for the environment. But, not so keen on chopping them down for a scam “cash for ash” scheme. So, perhaps remember that one when you post about “turning their own greenwashing into yet another baseless accusation against their opponents.”

    That moral high ground has a very slippery slope.

  9. Who is claiming the moral high ground, Martin?
    Who is stating fake information?
    Who is falling flat on his/her face?
    How is it possible to justify fake information by claiming one is morally superior?
    How can we easily solve the presence of plastic in our oceans?
    Why is it adult/hypocritical for unspecified morally superior people to use plastic whilst claiming to be against it?
    Do you understand the meaning of a. hypocritical and b. greenwashing?
    If one argues a moral ethical point, is one necessarily on a slippery slope.

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