Uplace will have to put its construction plans for Machelen on hold once again because the Raad van State just suspended the environmental permit the Flemish government had approved.
The Raad van State had already destroyed Uplace's first environmental permit in May 2014 and did so again with the permit the Flemish government gave on 23 June 2016.
According to Belgium's highest judicial organ, there may have been development since Uplace received its environmental impact report in 2010, saying that the "available traffic simulations and models at the time" could have negative consequences for "the mobility and how that subsequently impacts the air quality."
Uplace wanted to start construction in the upcoming months and the Raad van State felt it needed to suspend the environmental permit until a final decision can be made. The suspension was necessary because the construction could cause "irreparable damages".
Uplace said it was "confounded" by the judgment and that it made a "mockery of the legal system". CEO Bart Verhaeghe points out that the judgment "was opposite the advice of the Raad van State's own prosecutor" and finds it "unbelievable that the Raad van State deviates from its rulings once more, while it did not do so for a identical Docks case.
He considers it an "extremely weakly motivated judgment" that completely ignores the "unanimousely positive advice given by the highest Flemish environmental agency". "As an entrepreneur, I am shocked to see that this is possible in a constitutional nation. That one chamber of the Raad van State undermines the legal certainty need to be an entrepreneur, especially in a case where not a single citizen filed a complaint in the past ten years", Bart Verhaeghe concluded.
Uplace will examine the ruling and discuss the matter with the Flemish government. "Everything else, like the zoning and building permits, are still in place , meaning we can work together with the Flemish government to find a solution to this suspended environmental permit", the company says.