December 16, 2010

Flemish Higher Council for Environmental Enforcement Releases Annual Report

Filed under: Europe, seaports — Tags: , — inece @ 11:01 pm

From De Tijd:

A check conducted by the Flemish environmental inspectorate on 332 waste containers destined for export in 2009 showed that one quarter of all waste transport shipped via Flemish ports contravenes environmental regulations, with as much as 14% of all waste transported totally illegal. “It was not easy to check these containers in the harbours and their destination was often dubious,” says Robert Baert, divisional head of the Flemish environmental inspection unit. Close collaboration with federal services, the public prosecutor’s office and the police is essential for success, said Flemish Environmental Minister Joke Schauvliege (CD&V) during the handover of the preliminary environmental control report.

In addition to the control of waste traffic via harbours, the inspection unit is also controlling drinking water extraction. In 2009 inspectors checked 290 wells with a supply in excess of 30,000 cubic metres per annum. Flanders has a total of 23,000 permitted wells which supply a total of 260 million cubic metres of water each year; 60% of this volume is used for drinking water and the remainder serves food and textile industries and agriculture. The number of defective or over-pumped water extraction plants dropped from 82% to 67% between 2005 and 2009.

In 2009 Flanders introduced an environmental enforcement decree and composed a Higher Council for Environmental Enforcement (VHRM) chaired by Professor Michaël Faure. Thanks to the VHRM, Flemish environmental enforcement was investigated as a whole for the first time ever, with all departments under review and the composition of an annual environmental enforcement report to  facilitate quantified data in respect of local environmental control efficiency. In the past too many environmental violations and offences remained unpunished and even unaddressed due to the Justice department’s excessive work load.

Since the establishment of the VHRM, however, numbers have dropped. Moreover public prosecuting offices in Belgium now transfer environmental offences to the Flemish environmental administration instead of squashing them.

For more information about the Flemish Higher Council for Environmental Enforcement (VHRM), see


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