Judge bans protesting farmers from blocking Antwerp port

Ahead of announced protests by farmers, the Antwerp court of first instance on Wednesday banned the blocking of access roads to the port of Antwerp on pain of fines.

The decision follows a summary procedure initiated by the Port Authority. Any violation will result in a fine of 1,000 euros per person per hour.

Belgian farmers recently announced new protests in and around several ports for Thursday. The exact plans are unknown, but the farmers' organisation United Young Farmers had called for actions and filter blockades in the ports of Antwerp, Ghent and Zeebrugge. 

It is unclear whether the actions will be as extensive as in February when blockades disrupted traffic and hampered port operations. Annick De Ridder, president of the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority and Antwerp port alderwoman, said that road blockades were going too far. 

"You should opt for dialogue and not block the heart of our economy"

The port authority, North Sea Port, trade associations and individual companies in the port area went to court "to save our port as a crucial infrastructure and the companies that operate in it from being blocked", De Ridder said.

"The court subsequently ruled that free access to, transit through, and exit from the port must be guaranteed on the pain of periodic penalty payments," she said.

De Ridder added that she understood the farmers' anxiety about the future of their businesses and the sector. "But you should opt for dialogue and not block the heart of our economy with its 1,400 companies and 165,000 (direct and indirect) employees just because you can with a few tractors," she said.


#FlandersNewsService | Farmers protest in the port of Antwerp on 13 February 2024 © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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