On 14 July 2022, the Minister for Housing, Local Government & Heritage, received a letter from the Belgian Minister of Energy in relation to the proposed 10 year extension to the operational life of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear power plants, located near the Port of Antwerp and the village of Tihange respectively. This letter invited Ireland to participate in a transboundary EIA consultation in relation to the proposed project and advised that relevant environmental documentation would be available early in 2023. The documentation necessary to facilitate transboundary EIA consultation was received on 20 March 2023 from Belgian authorities.
Why is this consultation being undertaken?
In accordance with the provisions of the 1991 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (“the Espoo Convention”), transboundary States are required to engage in transboundary public consultation in respect of projects likely to have significant effects on the environment of neighbouring States as part of the environmental impact assessment of a proposed development. For this purpose, the transboundary State in whose territory the project is intended to be carried out is required to send to the affected State, no later than when informing its own public, a description of the project and any available information on its possible transboundary impact.
As noted above, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage received information from the Belgian Ministry of Energy, relating to the approval of a draft bill to allow the continued operation for the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors for another 10 years.
The Nuclear Power Plant of Doel in located in the Port of Antwerp, on the river Scheldt, approximately 6km from the border between Belgium and the Netherlands. The Nuclear Power Plant of Tihange is located on the bank of the Meuse River, near the village of Tihange in the Walloon province of Liége, approximately 40 km from the border between Belgium and the Netherlands and approximately 65 km from the border with Germany and Luxembourg. The Doel nuclear power plant has been in operation since 1974, the Tihange nuclear power plant has been in operation since 1975 and both Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors have been in operation since 1985.
The proposed Project consists of the 10 years extension of the operation of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors and the nuclear safety-related improvement works related to that extension. The Belgian government considers that the proposed Project plays a vital role in securing its supply of electricity until 2035. The project is also in line with the policy that the European Commission wishes to pursue for increased independence from fossil fuels and diversified energy supply. Belgian authorities have advised that countries within a 1000 km radius of these nuclear power plants are being consulted as part of the transboundary EIA process.
How to Participate
All documentation related to the development consent application for the proposed development, including additional or amending documentation accepted at the discretion of the Belgian Ministry of Energy, is available to view at this link: https://consultations.tipperarycoco.ie/consultations/Transboundary-Environmental-Public-Consultation--Belgium-Doel-4-and-Tihange-3