Judge imposes fines on Flanders for poor water quality

The Brussels Court of First Instance has imposed a penalty of €1,000 per day, with a maximum of €1 million, on the Flemish government because too much nitrate is getting into the water. Flanders can still appeal, but must pay the penalty until further notice. 

In June last year, the Brussels Court of First Instance ruled that the quality of Flemish waterways was too poor. It forced the Flemish government to take additional measures to address the problem. Due to a lack of action, the court ruled on Friday that a penalty must be paid of €1,000 for every day that additional measures are not taken, with a maximum of €1 million. 

The court followed the reasoning of the five environmental organisations - Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL), Dryade, Greenpeace, Natuurpunt and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - that brought the case in 2022. They argued that the nitrate thresholds were exceeded at more than 30 per cent of the monitoring sites. Flanders aims to have exceedances at only 5 per cent of monitoring sites. 

Flanders can still appeal but must pay the penalty until further notice. Flemish environment minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) said in a reaction that the verdict is still being studied, but that “we have always said there should be measures to improve water quality.”




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