Stevin


The purpose of the Stevin project is to expand the 380 kV network between Zomergem and Zeebrugge. The project has two major parts:
  • the installation of a double 380 kV high-voltage connection between Zomergem and Zeebrugge;
  • the installation of a new high-voltage substation in Zeebrugge, which will transform the electricity from 380 kV to other voltage levels.

A new high-voltage substation will also be built in Zomergem (see Horta project).

Latest news

June 2014

In June 2014 Elia has obtained the planning permission.

May 2014

stevin trajet

Elia receives the environmental permit for 3 high-voltage substations

The deputation of the province of West-Flanders has granted to Elia on its assembly of May 27 2014 the environmental permit for the 3 high-voltage substations to be built in Vivenkapelle-Damme, Lissewege-Bruges and Zeebrugge-Bruges.

These 3 substations are located on the new 380 kV high-voltage connection between Zeebrugge and Zomergem or the Stevin-route.

March 2014

Eight applications for suspension and annulment have been lodged with the Council of State against the Flemish government’s decision on the final definition of the regional development plan “Optimisation of the high-voltage grid in Flanders” (GRUP Stevin), setting out the route for the Stevin project.  In the meantime, the auditor sent its reports for these eight procedures in progress and for seven of them advised the Council of State to annul GRUP Stevin. For the eighth procedure, the auditor stated that the application for annulment was inadmissible since it was submitted too late.

February 2014

Prolongation of the public consultation on the issues relating to the environmental permit for Elia's operation of the Stevin and Gezelle high-voltage substations

The public consultation on issues relating to the environmental permit for the operation of the Stevin and Gezelle high-voltage substations has been prolonged. The reason for this is that the public consultation which ran from 7/12/2013 to 5/01/2014 inclusive was only announced a few days after this public consultation had begun.
Consequently, the process is merely being prolonged, and any complaints already lodged do not need to be re-submitted.

This public consultation on issues relating to the environmental permit for the operation of the Stevin high-voltage substation located in Kustlaan, 8380 Bruges and for the operation of the Gezelle high-voltage substation located in Lentestraat in Bruges, will now run from 3/3/2014 to 1/4/2014 inclusive. Letters of complaint may be sent by mail, e-mail, submitted in person at the Department of the Environment or sent to the councillors or mayor of the city of Bruges.

January 2014

Within the framework of the public consultation on the request for planning consent, the following meetings with the relevant municipalities have been scheduled:

planning

 This brochure contains further information about the progress and content of the planning-consent application (in Dutch)(PDF). In practical terms, the application pertains to:

  • infrastructure works on approximately 45 km of lines, a 10-km stretch of which comprises an underground cable between the Gezelle (Bruges) and Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle) substations;
  • new buildings and facilities located along Kustlaan, Baron de Maerelaan, Lentestraat, Pathoekeweg and Ter Bollestraat in Bruges, and along Sijseelsesteenweg in Damme: the land-register descriptions of the various sites are as follows:
    1.    Stevin site:
      •    BRUGES: 13th district, section R, parcel numbers 248n, 248p, 248k and 248h
    2.    Service buildings and cable tunnel beneath the Baudouin Canal:
      •    BRUGES: 10th district, section N, parcel numbers 649e2 and 578n
      •    BRUGES: 15th district, section E, parcel numbers 592g, 592k and 592f
      •    Without number (public area)
    3.    Van Maerlant substation:
      •    DAMME: 6th district, section D, parcel numbers 664a, 630a, 630b and 633b
      •    DAMME: 2nd district; section A, parcel number 555a
    4.    Gezelle substation:
      •    BRUGES: 10th district, section N, parcel numbers 555b, 550g, 629k, 541/02b, 550/02b, 555/03e and 556m

The application document is available to download here (in Dutch) (pdf, 56MB)

January 2014

During the course of the annulment proceedings currently under way before the Council of State against the Stevin regional land-use plan (i.e. the decision by the Flemish government setting out the line route), the auditor at the Council of State has issued several negative advisory opinions in relation to eight ongoing sets of proceedings started by, among others, the towns and municipalities of Damme, Maldegem and Bruges, and the province of West Flanders. Seven negative opinions have been delivered, with a position yet to be taken in the remaining proceeding. These opinions are not binding.

The defendants and intervenors, namely the Flemish Region, Elia and the BOP (Belgian Offhore Platform), now have 30 days within which to prepare their defence, following which the claimants will have 30 days within which to respond. The case will then be heard by the Council of State and the latter will issue its ruling. This process may take several months and a definitive decision is therefore expected by the summer of 2014 (possibly depending on the outcome of the two advisory opinions still to be issued by the auditor).

The Stevin project is crucial in connecting offshore wind farms and decentralised and renewable energy generation facilities in West Flanders, and is thus vital if the goal of renewable energy accounting for 13% of energy consumption in Belgium by 2020 is to be achieved. The project is also crucial to boosting economic development in the West Flanders region and at its sea ports. Finally, it is essential that the project goes ahead from the point of view of its significance for the interconnection with the United Kingdom, since the latter will play a vital role in ensuring security of supply for Belgium.

In view of the considerable importance of the project for Flanders in particular and for Belgium as a whole, Elia will continue to do everything possible, alongside the project’s stakeholders, to ensure that it can move forward to the implementation stage as swiftly as possible. Elia reiterates that following in-depth consultation with all parties concerned and based on the analysis contained in the environmental impact assessment (MER), the Flemish government has identified the most environmentally friendly line route possible in its regional land use plan. Furthermore, Elia has taken a number of measures – such as paying due compensation to the owners and users of residences and land affected, thoroughly researched landscaping, planting up of green areas and so forth – to limit the potential impact of the project as far as possible, and is preparing a defence in response to the auditor's comments. Elia will thus move forward with the necessary steps to obtain the required building permit in line with the planned timetable, i.e. in April/May 2014. However, dDepending on the timing and content of the decision ofby the Council of State, it is possible that the execution of work pursuant to the building permit will not be able to commence could possibly not start immediately.

December 2013

In December there is a public inquiry about the environmental permit application for the Stevin project. Below you will find more information and important data (in Dutch).

openbaar vergadering

November 2013

The planning-permit file for the Stevin project was declared complete and acceptable on 18 November, as was the environmental permit on 27 November.

October 2013

The project Environmental Impact Report (MER) was approved by the MER Department on 25 October 2013. The planning permit was subsequently submitted to the Town and Country Planning Department of the provinces of East and West Flanders on 30 October 2013. A class I environmental-permit request for the three high-voltage stations in Zeebrugge, Bruges and Damme was also submitted on 28 October.

September 2013

ZeebruggeOn Tuesday 10 September, Leefbare Polderdorpen, a non-profit association, joined forces with Elia to organise an information session in Zeebrugge for local residents and other stakeholders involved in the Stevin and Nemo projects. The aim was to give a progress report on both projects. The event consisted of a presentation followed by an exhibition, at which any interested parties could ask questions and take a closer look at the concepts and designs developed by the architects for both sites. For more information, please take a look at the brochure (in Dutch).

 

July 2013

stevinThe road permit application for Stevin has been submitted to the FPS Economy. This marks another step in applying for the permits required for the project. The road permit gives Elia the right to build facilities on public land and hang lines over private property. The federal government issues this permit.

 

 

June 2013

A draft-MER meeting with the various stakeholders involved in the Stevin project took place on 18 June. The stakeholders included representatives from the MER department, the Environment and Health Department, the public health supervisory authority, the Bruges-Zeebrugge port authority, the city of Bruges, the town of Damme, the municipality of Zomergem and the Department of Spatial Planning, Housing Policy and Heritage Sites (RWO).

The meeting aimed to deal with the stakeholders’ initial questions and comments with a view to incorporating them into the final MER (environmental impact assessment) report.

March 2013

The Council of State has rejected the applications for suspension of implementation of the land-use plan (‘Gewestelijk Ruimtelijk Uitvoeringsplan’) applying to the Stevin project.

This decision marks the next step in the project’s implementation. If the permit procedure can be completed by late 2013, work can begin in 2014 and be finished in the first quarter of 2016.

14-20 November 2012

At the information events on 14 November in Adegem-Dorp, 15 November in Zeebrugge and 20 November in Vivenkapelle, Elia provides additional explanations in connection with the notification of the Stevin ‘project–MER’ submitted for inspection.

The notification document for the ‘project-MER’ was declared complete by the MER department on 16 October 2012. The municipal authorities are now invited to organise a 30-day public inspection period during which members of the public can submit their comments and opinions on the proposed assessment method.

During the public inspection period the documents are available at the relevant town councils and on the Elia website.

16 October 2012

The MER department now declares full notification of the Stevin ‘project–MER’. The municipal authorities will now organise the notification inspection.

13 July 2012

Following the advisory opinion of the Belgian Council of State, the Flemish government decided to finally adopt the land-use plan (Gewestelijk Uitvoeringsplan (GRUP)) ‘Optimisation of the high-voltage grid in Flanders’.

Benefits

The Stevin project addresses four major needs. 

  1. It enables offshore wind power to be brought on land and transmitted to the domestic market. For more information about Elia’s offshore wind energy projects, click here.
  2. It is necessary in order to create a further interconnection with the Belgian grid via a subsea connection to the United Kingdom (Nemo project link).
  3. This expansion of the 380 kV grid will significantly improve the electricity supply for the West Flanders region and make further economic development possible in the strategically important growth area in and around the port of Zeebrugge.
  4. It enables the connection of additional decentralised electricity generation (wind, solar and other forms of sustainable energy) in the coastal region. 

stevin benefits

 

Context

The project is necessary for the implementation of the European and Belgian energy and climate policy. Europe has set itself the goal of cutting energy consumption by 20%, reducing CO2 emissions by 20% and generating 20% of total energy from sustainable, renewable sources by 2020.

stevin context

Belgium’s targets are to generate 13% of the energy it consumes from renewable sources by 2020. The most important source in Belgium is offshore wind power. In 2004 the Belgian government delimited an offshore zone where a capacity of +/- 2,000 MW of wind power can be installed. All seven domain concessions have been awarded. The installation of the first wind farms is under way; the remaining wind farms will have to wait until Stevin is in place.

The electricity must be brought on land and transmitted via the grid to distribution companies and customers. The current network on the coast has voltage levels of up to 150 kV. It has limited capacity and is saturated by connection of the first three offshore wind farms.

The expansive growth of decentralised generation means that the coastal network will have to be upgraded. The network in the Ostend-Zeebrugge-Bruges triangle is saturated, meaning that connecting new decentralised production units will have to wait.

A strong 380 kV backbone between the coast and the inland parts of the country, which Stevin will provide, is therefore necessary: further expansions of the 150 kV grid are no longer sufficient.

For more information, visit http://www.creg.be/fr/greenelec4.html (in French) or http://economie.fgov.be/

Read more about the location of the route and the various parts of the Stevin project here.

Carefully chosen location

Elia wants to build a double 380 kV line with a capacity of 2 x 3,000 MVA (megavolt-ampere). In connection with this project, Elia has carried out the appropriate analyses so as to factor in the impact on people and the environment as much as possible.

The line will run between Zomergem and Zeebrugge through the provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders. The following towns are affected: Bruges, Blankenberge, Zuienkerke, Damme, Maldegem, Sint-Laureins, Eeklo and Zomergem. The final route was adopted by the Flemish government on 13 June 2012 and set out in a regional land-use plan (‘Gewestelijk Ruimtelijk Uitvoeringsplan’ or ‘GRUP’). This was done after the required environmental assessment via a plan environmental impact report (‘plan-milieu-effectenrapportage’ or ‘plan-MER’). The plan sets out an extensive analysis of the impact on people and the environment, taking account of technical and economic feasibility and the public inspection of the provisionally defined GRUP.

The route

selected route

  • The line runs above-ground between Zeebrugge and De Spie in Bruges.
  • It then goes underground, running under the Boudewijnkanaal, north of Koolkerke and Fort van Beieren, north of Sint-Kruis and south of Vivenkapelle, returning above-ground east of this village.
  • It then follows the existing 150 kV line north of Maldegem.
  • From the high-voltage substation in Eeklo (junction between the R43 and E34/N49), the 380 kV line is combined with the existing line to Zomergem. In Zomergem, the 380 kV line ends at the Horta high-voltage substation. The existing 150 kV line Eeklo-Bruges line that runs south of Maldegem will be decommissioned.

This route represents a general improvement compared to the current situation. By running the northern route between Eeklo and Bruges, it is possible to make several residential areas and landscapes completely free of lines. The existing southern high-voltage line will no longer be needed once the Stevin project is completed and will therefore be decommissioned.

In addition, the Flemish government has decided that around 10 km (of the 47 km long line) will run underground between the De Spie business park and Vivenkapelle.

high-voltage-line

Parts of the Stevin project

A visual representation of the Stevin project

A virtual model of the planned route is provided below. Use the navigation buttons (see the explanation to the right of the model) to move along the route and view it from a number of angles.
To view the 3D model, you must first install the plugin (you only need to do this once).

Click the ‘Unity web player’ button below the text to download the plugin.

Navigation

You will need to use both your hands to move around the 3D model. A schematic representation of the navigation buttons is provided below.
  • Q = go up
  • Z = go down
  • W = move forwards
  • S = move backwards
  • A = move left
  • D = move right
  • ↓ = look down
  • ← = look to the left
  • → = look to the right
  • ↑ = look up

Zomergem-Eeklo-North section

On this section, a second three-phase transmission line will be installed on the existing pylons and the existing three-phase transmission line will be replaced. Virtually nothing will change regarding the position of the pylons or how they look.

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Eeklo-Vijvekapelle section

A new above-ground line will be built more or less parallel to the existing 150 kV line running from Eeklo-Noord via Sint-Laureins (north of Maldegem) to the Bruges Oostrand. Elia plans to use pylons with insulated crossarms for this new section. The shorter crossarms result in a narrower corridor for the conductors.

At the Eeklo-Noord substation the existing 150 kV line between the Eeklo-Noord and Brugge Waggelwater substations will be buried underground over a short distance in order to avoid crossing the new 380 kV line.

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Transition stations

East of Vivenkapelle and at the De Spie industrial estate in Bruges the line will go underground, requiring the construction of a transition station. A transition station will also be built in De Spie. A building on a 1.3 hectare piece of land houses the equipment to make the transition from above-ground to underground, and vice versa.

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Vivenkapelle-De Spie underground section

The underground section between Vivenkapelle and De Spie is around 10 km long. The four cables are about 2 metres underground. During the building work, a corridor of approximately 55 metres must be maintained along the entire section for digging up earth, piling it and accessing the site. A permanent 25-metre space above the cables must remain free of buildings and trees. It is possible to grow crops above the cables once the works are completed.

Inspection wells will be located every 600 to 1,000 metres. The wells provide access to the cable connectors. The underground cables run through tunnels under the Boudewijnkanaal.

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De Spie-Zeebrugge

A new section of above-ground line (1 km) will be built from De Spie. This section will then follow the existing pylons for the 150 kV Blauwe-Toren-Zeebrugge line. The pylons will be modified and reused for the double 380 kV line. The connection will reach the new Stevin high-voltage substation via a new section of above-ground line (3 km).

The pylons for the 150kV Blauwe Toren-Zeebrugge line (not slated for re-use) will be demolished.

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Stevin high-voltage substation

The Stevin high-voltage substation houses the switchgear and transformers for 380 kV, 220 kV and 150 kV. There will be room on the opposite side of the N31 for a conversion station for converting between direct current and alternating current for the planned interconnection with the United Kingdom. These facilities will be housed in closed buildings.

The military site to the east and west of the N31 road, and bordered to the north by the coast road has been included in the finally adopted ‘GRUP’ as the location. This area will be classified as a public utility zone.

The to-be built Stevin high-voltage substation will be housed in a building. It will be a compact GIS (gas-insulated switchgear) substation, comprising transformers and switchgear that convert electricity from a voltage of 380 kV to 220 kV and 150 kV.

This high-voltage substation will be connected to the existing Blondeellaan substation via an above-ground 150 kV line.

This location will also group together the facilities for connecting offshore wind farms. The public utility zone will also include all facilities for the subsea connection to the United Kingdom, which will operate on high-voltage direct current (HVDC). These facilities comprise the connection and conversion station with the equipment for converting from direct current to alternating current and vice versa. These facilities will also be housed in a building.

Demolition of the southern 150kV connection between Bruges and Eeklo

The southernmost overhead 150 kV connection between Eeklo and Bruges can only be demolished after the new 380 kV Stevin connection commissions.

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This page gives an overview of the schedule and permit procedures for the Stevin project, as well as the procedures completed to date.

General time-frame

General time-frame

If the permit procedure proceeds according to schedule, work could start in 2014 and be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

The project schedule depends to a large extent on the duration and progress of the permit procedure. It is assumed that this can be completed by the end of 2013.

The most southern above-ground 150 kV line between Eeklo and Bruges can only be decommissioned after the new 380 kV Stevin line has been commissioned. This is anticipated for early 2016.

Permit procedures

Planning permit

An application for a planning permit was made to the Flemish government. The civil servants responsible for planning issues in the relevant provincial departments will obtain the opinion of the bodies concerned and will also organise a public survey in the field. The public survey will last 60 days, and then after collating the objections and opinions, the Flemish government will come to a decision.

If everything goes according to plan, the public survey will start on 16 December 2013 and will last 60 calendar days. We have scheduled an open day in each town to answer the questions of those concerned. The open days will be held on:

  • 16 January: Eeklo
  • 17 January: Zomergem
  • 20 January: Zeebrugge + Zuienkerke + Blankenberge
  • 21 January: Damme
  • 23 January: Maldegem + Sint Laureins
In practical terms, the application pertains to:
  • infrastructure works on approximately 45 km of lines, a 10-km stretch of which comprises an underground cable between the Gezelle (Bruges) and Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle) substations;
  • new buildings and facilities located along Kustlaan, Baron de Maerelaan, Lentestraat, Pathoekeweg and Ter Bollestraat in Bruges, and along Sijseelsesteenweg in Damme: the land-register descriptions of the various sites are as follows:
    1.    Stevin site:
      •    BRUGES: 13th district, section R, parcel numbers 248n, 248p, 248k and 248h
    2.    Service buildings and cable tunnel beneath the Baudouin Canal:
      •    BRUGES: 10th district, section N, parcel numbers 649e2 and 578n
      •    BRUGES: 15th district, section E, parcel numbers 592g, 592k and 592f
      •    Without number (public area)
    3.    Van Maerlant substation:
      •    DAMME: 6th district, section D, parcel numbers 664a, 630a, 630b and 633b
      •    DAMME: 2nd district; section A, parcel number 555a
    4.    Gezelle substation:
      •    BRUGES: 10th district, section N, parcel numbers 555b, 550g, 629k, 541/02b, 550/02b, 555/03e and 556m

The application document is available to download here (in Dutch) (pdf, 56MB)

Road permit and Declaration of Public Utility

Pursuant to the Act of 10 March 1925, applications will be made to Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed & Energy – in parallel with the procedure for the planning permit – for a road permit and a Declaration of Public Utility. An application for a Declaration of Public Utility will be made for constructing electrical lines on private land, and a road permit is needed to construct electrical lines on public property, such as roads, railways and canals.

The road permit was submitted to the FPS Economy on 25 July.

While the Declaration of Public Utility procedure is running, a public inquiry will be organised during which a letter will be written to all owners of parcels of land on which a pylon is erected. The owners in question will have 14 days to make objections.

Environmental permit

A class I environmental permit was requested for the Stevin, Van Maerlant and Gezelle high-voltage stations for the towns in question (Bruges and Damme). This environmental permit was submitted on 28 October 2013 and was declared complete and acceptable on 27 November 2013.

‘Project-MER’

The ‘project-MER’ was approved by the MER Department on 25 October 2013.

The ‘project-MER’ is the environmental impact report that must be drafted for the project. The ‘project-MER’ studies and assesses the environmental impact of the selected routes and locations. It looks at: type, height, scope and location of the pylons, types of conductors, height of the conductors, location of the buildings for the high-voltage substation, land-use planning, etc. The ‘project-MER’ is produced after a public consultation on the information document which gives an overview of the impact that should be studied (at project level).

The notification document for the ‘project-MER’ was declared complete by the MER department on 16 October 2012. The municipal authorities were then invited to organise a 30-day public inspection period during which members of the public can submit their comments and opinions on the proposed assessment method.

During the public inspection period the documents were available at the relevant town councils and on the Elia website.

In the second half of November 2012 Elia organised information events in order to keep impacted residents as well informed as possible.

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‘RUP’ procedure

Inclusion of the route and infrastructure in a land-use plan is the first step before permits can be issued for the construction of the new high-voltage substation and high-voltage line. The regional land-use plan is then adopted by the Flemish government. This is done on the basis of an in-depth spatial assessment and the findings of an environmental impact report whose scope was determined in part by the input of the public and opinions issued by municipal, provincial and other authorities.

The public consultation in connection with the final approval of the regional land-use plan for ‘Optimisation of the High-voltage Network’ in Flanders was organised by the Flemish government’s Department of Spatial Planning, Housing Policy and Heritage Sites ( ‘departement Ruimtelijke Ordening, Woonbeleid en Onroerend Erfgoed’, ‘RWO’). The public consultation ran from 13 September to 10 November 2011. It was announced in the Belgian Official Gazette on 9 August 2011 as well as in three newspapers and on three radio stations.

The documents were available during the public consultation at the municipalities concerned and on the website www.ruimtelijkeordening.be. In collaboration with Spatial Planning Flanders, Elia held a series of information events in the first half of October to ensure that the people affected by the plans are as well-informed as possible.

VLACORO (the Flemish Spatial Planning Commission) had 90 days after the conclusion of the public consultation on the final version of the regional land-use plan (10 November 2011) to issue an opinion to the Flemish government. This was done on 27 January 2012 after examining the objections submitted.

The Flemish government definitively adopted the GRUP on 13 July 2012, setting out the final route for the line and the location of the high-voltage substation.

‘Plan-MER’ procedure

The public consultation ran from 20 November to 19 December 2009. During that period, members of the public could view the public consultation document, which describes the various possible routes and proposes which environmental impacts are to be studied, at the town halls of the municipalities in question or on the websites of Elia and the Flemish Environmental Impact Report Service (‘Dienst MER’) and give their comments on it. During the consultation period the public could indicate which specific additional aspects need to be investigated and propose alternatives. The comments made by the public and the opinions of the authorities were included in guidelines for drafting the ‘plan-MER’.

The ‘plan-MER’, including the relevant assessment, was approved by the ‘Dienst MER’ on 25 May 2011. The approved environmental impact report was incorporated into the draft regional land-use plan (‘GRUP’) provisionally adopted by the Flemish government on 22 July 2011.

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Download the request file for the environmental permit

Download the ‘project-MER’

Frequently Asked Questions

Why opt for an above-ground line?

Elia has several reasons for choosing an above-ground line. You can find the reasons in favour of an above-ground line below. The Stevin project relates to a connection with a very high power (2 x 3,000 MVA) at a voltage of 380 kV. For several reasons, Elia has opted for an overhead line. However, over a distance of around 10 km the connection will be laid underground, as provided for in the definitive version of the land-use plan (‘Ruimtelijk Uitvoeringsplan’) approved by the Flemish government.

1. Environmental factors

Both underground and overhead connections have an environmental impact. With overhead lines, the physical impact is less, as it is limited to the pylon (approx. 10 m wide), whereas along the whole length of underground cables there is a ‘corridor’ at least 15 m wide which must not have any trees or buildings on it and which cannot be built on. During the works, a corridor with a width of about 40 m is needed to store soil, the trench for laying cables, transport and access.

Both overhead and underground connections generate low-frequency magnetic fields of 50 Hz. In the immediate vicinity of an underground cable, magnetic fields can be stronger than close to an overhead line, because underground cables are buried between 1.5 m and 2 m below ground whereas most overhead lines are 20 m to 30 m above ground level. However, the strength of the magnetic field decreases more quickly as you move away from an underground cable than is the case with an overhead line. In the case of underground cables, the electrical field is blocked by insulating coats.

2. Technical factors

Using underground cables makes it more difficult to transmit large amounts of power over long distances. This is due to the capacitive effect of underground cables. This capacitive effect causes that more reactive power is needed on the electricity grid. The more reactive power there is on the grid, the less active power can be transmitted.

An underground connection is less reliable than an overhead connection. Far fewer structural faults occur in overhead lines than underground cables. If an underground cable stops working, the cable remains unavailable for several days or weeks. For every two electrical paths on an overhead line, three underground electrical paths are needed to provide the same level of reliability. Therefore a number of cables have to be laid to safeguard the supply of energy.

All of this increases the technical complexity of the grid.

3. Economic factors

An underground 380 kV connection has a much higher cost price than an overhead connection. For this project, it would be seven to ten times higher for an underground cable than for an overhead line. In view of technical experience with this type of connection being limited since such connections are a very recent development, it is difficult to predict the service life of such a connection. Increased, costly investments on replacements can be expected in the long term. The factors above result in higher transmission tariffs.

What does this all mean?

For new 380 kV connections that are integrated into the grid, Elia considers laying them above ground (overhead) to be economically and socially more responsible provided that routes and technologies are used that have the least possible impact on people and the environment. Elia only considers an underground connection for a voltage of 380 kV as an equally valid alternative to an overhead line in the case of short connections, for connecting up generation units with capacities up to 1,000 MW. Such lines are at terminal branches of the grid, so that the operation of the whole grid is not put at risk if they have a failure.

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How does Elia take account of people and the environment?

Elia makes every effort to minimise the impact on people and the environment. Various measures are taken to prevent cables from passing over homes (as far as possible) and to keep residential areas and landscapes as unblighted as possible.

The route and deployment were selected to minimise the number of homes over which power lines pass. Maximum use is made of existing pylons by deploying new technologies such as high-performance conductors and insulated crossarms. Existing routes can be re-used by moving some existing 150 kV lines underground. In addition, the new 380 kV line will run underground for about 10 km. Once the grid is upgraded to 380 kV, an existing line between Eeklo and Bruges (running south of Maldegem) will be decommissioned.

Landscape studies are carried out into the location of the high-voltage substation and transition stations. The appropriate measures will be taken to integrate the facilities as well as possible into the landscape. The selected route will ensure maximum bundling with an existing line and the re-use of existing lines. In this ‘bundled’ section, new types of pylons will be used to ensure that the appearance of the existing 150 kV line and the new 380 kV line are compatible.

Both above-ground and underground high-voltage lines generate very-low-frequency magnetic fields. You can read more about magnetic fields under Electric and magnetic fields. Magnetic fields can be reduced by configuring the three-phase transmission lines (specifically, by using the three-phase transmission lines in ‘reverse phase’).


What practical steps is Elia taking to minimise the impact?

Elia is making every effort to minimise the impact on local residents and the area surrounding the Stevin route. This includes the following measures:
  • Decommissioning the 150 kV line south of Maldegem after completion of the Stevin project
  • Laying 10 km of the line underground
  • Establishing a compensation scheme for local residents
  • Landscaping around the Vivenkapelle substation
  • Reducing visual impact by installing pylons with insulated crossarms

For the Stevin substation in Zeebrugge, for example, we have opted to build the substation 5 m below the road level in order to lessen the visual impact. We will also be making part of the site accessible to the public. In addition, the architectural design includes the creation of green areas using trees and plants. Similar investments are being made at other points along the route.

The convertor building at the conversion station is being built as far as possible from the residential area. The visual impact will also be reduced by means of a carefully chosen architectural design. The site is designed in such a way as to make the building seem smaller and part of the site is being returned to local residents as a public space. In this way, Elia is seeking to meet the wishes of residents, who asked for the visual impact to be kept to a minimum.

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Can I obtain compensation from Elia?

Elia offers various forms of compensation for owners of building land and residential land traversed by the new sections of line for the Stevin project.

Electricity supply is a public utility. Generated electricity has to be transmitted from generation units to consumers.

This transmission is the responsibility of Elia, the owner and operator of the Belgian high-voltage grid. For the transmission of electricity, a high-voltage grid needs to be constructed and operated. To this end, the electricity legislation provides Elia with a specific framework for using both public property and private properties.

As part of efforts to compensate farmers for any disadvantages they might suffer, Elia has concluded a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the farmers organisations in which compensation levels are defined. The MoU applies across the board, not just to the Stevin project. It can be found under “Compensation farmers”.

In a communication dated 1 June 2012, the Flemish government, in consultation with Elia, announced that a number of forms of compensation will be offered to owners of the building land or homes over which the new sections of line being built for the Stevin project will pass.

For land with homes and building land for homes, the following principles apply to the Stevin project:

a. Land under the new sections of line being built for the Stevin project

(both land over which the new above-ground line between Eeklo and Vivenkapelle will pass and land over which a number of short new sections of line at de Spie and at the Stevin high-voltage substation at Zeebrugge will pass)
  1. Compensation scheme

    Compensation will be paid to owners of cadastral parcels of land:
    •   on which a home stands that has either been granted a building permit or that is considered to have been granted a building permit, or for which a town-planning permit for the construction of a home can be issued on the basis of the current use; and
    •   in the event that all or some of the cadastral parcels are located within a corridor of 60 metres under the above-ground line (the corridor of 60 metres is based on the maximum overhang width of the line when the line sways).

    The compensation will be calculated as follows:
    The venal value of the property is calculated on the basis of a maximum surface area of 10,000 m2. For farms, only the value of the residential part of the farm is taken into account alongside the maximum surface area of 10,000 m2. The venal value is calculated on the basis of an expert opinion.

    Where applicable, the compensation must be shared with the user.

  2. Purchasing scheme

    For owners of land satisfying the conditions given under item 1 whose home or building land lies wholly or in part within the 60 metre corridor, and who would like to move instead of accepting the above compensation, Elia will make an offer to buy their building land or home.

    The price of the offer will be calculated on the basis of an expert opinion. The offer will remain valid until three years after the commissioning of the high-voltage line, so on the basis of the current estimation of how long the work will take, the purchase offer will remain valid until 2018.

    Acceptance of the compensation (see item 1) does not mean that the owner cannot still sell his or her land to Elia subsequently (up to three years after commissioning of the line). In that case, the compensation that has already been paid will be deducted from the purchase price of the property.

b. Work on existing lines

(The second three-phase transmission line on the existing line between Zomergem and Eeklo and the upgrade (voltage increase) of the existing line between Bruges - Blauwe Toren and Zeebrugge)

This work will not entail any alteration to the current location of the line and its various components, and the area over which the existing line passes will thus remain unchanged. Compensation will be paid for any damage at all to properties as a result of the work being carried out.

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What about electromagnetic fields?

You can read more about electric and magnetic fields under Electric and magnetic fields. In Belgium, all legal requirements about living near high-voltage lines are complied with.

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Still have questions about the Stevin project? Our contact details and some useful links can be found below.

Contact us:

Elia always strives to ensure a constructive dialogue with all stakeholders. In the preparatory phase, the best possible solution is sought in cooperation with the municipality and everyone else involved.

Once the locations of the connection and pylons are known, a contact person from Elia visits residents to decide on the practical arrangements in a spirit of constructive dialogue.

During the works, a contact person will also be available to provide information and minimise disruptions caused by the project.

Contact person for local residents:

Jeroen Mentens
Tel.: 02 546 79 57
jeroen.mentens@elia.be

Stevin project team

  • Project leaders: Stefaan vanden Berghe and Menno Janssens
  • Permits and contact with local residents:
    • Jeroen Mentens
    • External negotiators
      • Luc Van Hoorick
      • Joëlle Vanhorenbeke
      • Dirk Deberdt
      • Georges Collignon
      • Olivier Collignon
      • Xavier De Kimpe
  • Technical operations:
    • Connections (lines and cables): Bart Pelssers
    • High-voltage substations: Arianne Mertens
  • Communication: Barbara Verhaegen

Useful links