The Stevin project is designed to upgrade the high-voltage grid between Zomergem and Zeebrugge.
The work includes:
laying a double high-voltage 380-kV connection over a 47-km stretch, some of it underground and some of it overhead;
- building three high-voltage substations in Zeebrugge, De Spie and Vivenkapelle;
- dismantling the existing 150-kV connections and laying them underground.
We are reinforcing the existing high-voltage grid in West and East Flanders so that greater quantities of electricity can be transported from the coast inland. We are also installing new overhead and underground connections, and dismantling 53 km of old lines which will be replaced by a 35-km underground system once the new connections are operational.
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Upgrading the high-voltage grid between Zomergem and Zeebrugge entails ten sub-projects. The first eight deal with the construction of the Stevin route. The final two consist of dismantling the two current high-voltage lines, which will ultimately become redundant. The northerly overhead 150-kV line will be dismantled first. We will then dismantle the southerly 150-kV line once the new underground connection between Eeklo and Bruges becomes operational:
For each sub-project, the diagram below shows what works are being performed, when and within which municipality.
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To bring its projects to fruition, Elia is required to obtain a range of permits and authorisations. The same applies to the Stevin project, in respect of which the permit procedure was completed in 2015.
Below is a brief overview of all the permits obtained for the Stevin project.
An environmental impact report (MER) plan looks at, discusses and evaluates the environmental impact of all potential routes. During the public consultation phase, the general public may raise other concerns or propose alternative routes to be researched. The Flemish government’s MER Department (‘Dienst MER’) approved the final report in mid-2011.
Based on the findings of the MER plan (environmental impact report), the selected route will be drawn up into a Land Use Plan (‘Ruimtelijk Uitvoeringsplan’). During the public consultation stage, the various documents and plans were available for people to consult and the public, the municipalities and the authorities were able to debate the chosen route. The Flemish Spatial Planning Commission (Vlacoro) issued its opinion to the Flemish government, which in turn approved the plan definitively in autumn 2012.
The draft MER (environmental impact assessment) investigates, discusses and assesses the environmental impact of the selected route and the work required to implement it. It also details the features of the pylons, conductors, high-voltage substations, green buffer zones and so forth. The draft MER is compiled following a public consultation of the notification document setting out an overview of the project and the impact to be investigated. The Flemish government’s MER department (‘Dienst MER’) approved the final report again in late 2013.
A road permit is required to run an electrical connection across public land such as roads, railway lines and canals. Elia was granted the necessary road permit in 2015.
Just like anyone else in Flanders wanting to build or develop, Elia had to apply for a planning permit from the Flemish government. The Spatial Planning Department (RWO) issued the required building permits after hearing the views of the various municipalities and authorities.
To enable it to operate a high-voltage substation, Elia applied to the province for a class-1 environmental permit. An information session was held on the specific environmental impact of the activity, and was an opportunity for the public to lodge any complaints with the municipalities, which forwarded their opinion on to the Provincial Environmental Permit Commission (PMVC: Provinciale Milieuvergunningscommissie).
Declaration of public utility
A declaration of public utility is required to enable an electrical connection to be run across private land for public utility purposes.
Want to find out more about the permits required? Visit for more information; you can also download permits and other studies here, too.
Want to know more about the Stevin project? Then visit www.stevin.be where you will find more information about the ten sub-projects, the purpose of the Stevin project, electromagnetic fields, special landscaping and the permits required.
You can also sign up for the electronic newsletter providing regular updates on the project’s progress (in Dutch):
- via e-mail: email@example.com
- by phone: 0800 11 089 (during working hours)