Belgium

Political situation

The Flemish Government passed a law in 2009 specifically to lay out legal framework for coal bed methane extraction
In 2011 a regional investment company owned by the Flemish government set up a new company in partnership with Dart Energy, Limburg Gas.
Limburg Gas has exclusive rights to explore for CBM in a 350 km2 area in the Campine basin, and a budget of 10million over 3 years (investment split 80% Dart Energy, 20% LRM)
The Flemish minister responsible for innovation considers it to be ‘green energy’
Main political parties are voicing moderate enthusiasm for project, accepting that there are environmental and health risks attached, and advocating caution and regulation to ensure it happens safely and without damaging the environment (check responses)
Green party are opposed and have asked parliamentary questions on our behalf, but are not actively campaigning against it.

Shale Gas activities

Plan to apply for permit for initial test drilling before the end of the year. Site identified but not made public
The planning and environmental permissions will all be granted by the Flemish government – a clear case of conflict of interests as LRM is wholly owned by the Flemish government
Dart Energy not based in Belgium, nearest office is in Edinburgh, Scotland. LRM keeping low key. Very little awareness among politicians, press or other environmental NGOs

Mobilisation

FoE Flanders/Brussels – Very small volunteer led group, with no budget
Some NGOs are expressing an interest in following campaign and may join at a later date, but have other priorities at the moment.
We have benefitted from expertise at European level (FoEE, Food and Water Watch, FoE Scotland) and also from expertise and experience of resisting coal bed methane in Australia (Mariann, National Toxics Network, Lock the Gate).
We have mobilised by having stalls at festivals and organsing film and discussion evenings. Mobilisation has been easiest amongst activist groups, who are now organising their own coal bed methane info events. We think it will be easier to mobilise the general public when we have a clearer idea of where the test drilling will take place.
We have been collecting signatures opposing the plans at events over the summer, and will be presenting them to the Minister this week
We are working with regional environmental umbrella groups to help spread awareness in Limburg and encourage people to get organised and get active to oppose the plans, as we have no local group in the area

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Posted in Reports, Reports Europe

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