Stevin


The Stevin project aims to upgrade the electricity grid between Zomergem and Zeebrugge. The project consists of the following main components:

  • the laying of a double 380-kV high-voltage line between Zomergem and Zeebrugge, some of it overhead and some of it underground;
  • the construction of a new high-voltage substation in Zeebrugge, which will convert electricity from 380 kV to other voltage levels;
  • the construction of two new transition stations in Bruges and Damme where there is the transition from underground to overhead facilities.
    A new high-voltage substation will also be built in Zomergem (see Horta project).

Latest news

November 2014

The Stevin project is starting. Take a look at the brochure for more information on the planning of the works (in Dutch).

September 2014

Elia reached an agreement with the various private parties and local authorities that had lodged proceedings against the GRUP (regional land-use plan) for Stevin. The Council of State was informed of the settlement agreements and took cognisance of the parties’ waiver of claims. The Council of State will take this under consideration and issue its final decision within a few weeks.

Since there are no longer any legal proceedings pending against the Stevin project and since the planning and environmental permits for the three high-voltage substations have already been obtained, work could now start on the project. Kick-off is scheduled for early 2015. An extensive information campaign will keep local stakeholders posted about the project and planned works.

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’.

The Stevin project aims to upgrade the electricity grid between Zomergem and Zeebrugge. The project consists of the following main components:

  • the laying of a double 380-kV high-voltage line between Zomergem and Zeebrugge, some of it overhead and some of it underground;
  • the construction of a new high-voltage substation in Zeebrugge, which will convert electricity from 380 kV to other voltage levels;
  • the construction of two new transition stations in Bruges and Damme where there is the transition from underground to overhead facilities.
    A new high-voltage substation will also be built in Zomergem (see Horta project).

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

Through the Stevin project, Elia aims to upgrade the Belgian high-voltage (380-kV) grid between Zeebrugge and Zomergem. This planned expansion of the grid is key to ensuring the future supply of electricity for both Belgium in general and the coastal region in particular. When making its decision on the new 380-kV line with its capacity of 2 x 3,000 MVA (megavolt-amperes), Elia 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 and municipalities are affected: Bruges, Blankenberge, Zuienkerke, Damme, Maldegem, Sint-Laureins, Eeklo and Zomergem. The final route was approved 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 inquiry on the provisionally defined GRUP.

For more information about the permit procedures and environmental impact reports, please see the Permits page.

Alleviating measures

More of the line underground

There were already plans in the regional land-use plan for Stevin to demolish the existing 150-kV line to the south of Maldegem. Now the existing 150-kV overhead line to the north of Maldegem (which will run parallel with the new 380‑kV line) will also be moved underground. This means that after the work has been carried out, only the 380-kV line will continue to run as an overhead line, in the municipalities of Maldegem, Damme and Bruges. In this way, various residential districts and areas of countryside will no longer have an overhead line running through them, representing a general improvement on the current situation.

Further details about the route

  • The line will run as an overhead line between Zeebrugge and De Spie in Bruges, with the vast majority of it adopting the route of the existing 150-kV line. 
  • It will then go underground, running under the Boudewijnkanaal, to the north of Koolkerke and Fort van Beieren, to the north of Sint-Kruis and the south of Vivenkapelle, returning above ground to the east of this village centre. 
  • The high-voltage line will then run parallel to the route of 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 will be combined with the existing line to Zomergem. In Zomergem, the 380-kV line will come to an end at the Horta high-voltage substation.

You can find a detailed description of the work and time-frame for each section of the route on the ‘Work and Time-frame’ page.

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General planning

Once all the permits have been obtained, work can start on the actual implementation. The work on the new 380-kV line will start in the spring of 2015 and be completed by the end of 2017. During 2017, the laying of the existing 150-kV line underground will start-so that the existing 150-kV lines can be broken up in 2018-2019.

Overview of the work for each section of the route

Here the work will be presented in more detail for each section of the route along with the planning.

The route can be split up into various sections:

  1. Upgrade of the existing 380-kV line between Horta (Zomergem) and Eeklo;
  2. A new overhead 380-kV line between Eeklo and Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle);
  3. Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle) transition station;
  4. A new underground 380-kV line from Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle) to Gezelle (De Spie);
  5. Gezelle ‘De Spie’ (Bruges) substation;
  6. A new overhead 380-kV-line between Gezelle (De Spie) and Stevin (Zeebrugge);
  7. Stevin (Zeebrugge) high-voltage substation;
  8. A new underground 150-kV line between Stevin (Zeebrugge) and Zeebrugge Blondeellaan.

In addition, a number of existing 150-kV lines will be demolished following the construction of the new 380-kV line:

  1. Demolition and moving underground of the existing 150-kV line to the north of Maldegem between Eeklo and Bruges;
  2. Demolition of the 150-kV line to the south of Maldegem between Eeklo and Bruges (after moving the northern line underground).

1. Upgrade of the existing 380-kV line between Horta (Zomergem) and Eeklo

The existing high-voltage line (12 km) between the Eeklo-Noord and Horta (Zomergem) substations is currently fitted with one three-phase transmission line. This line's existing three-phase transmission line will be removed and the pylons will be fitted with two three-phase transmission lines, each consisting of three electrical phases.

Before installing the new conductors on the pylons, the pylons and foundations will be reinforced. The existing high-voltage line consists of 29 pylons, of which eight will be rebuilt at the same location, using the same pylon silhouette. For the other 21 pylons, reinforcements of the pylons and foundations will be put in place.

There will be virtually no change to the location or appearance of the pylons.

2. New overhead 380-kV line between Eeklo and Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle)

A new overhead line will be built more or less parallel to the route of the existing 150-kV line running from Eeklo-Noord via Sint-Laureins (north of Maldegem) to Bruges Oostrand. Elia will use pylons with insulated crossarms for this new section. This new type of crossarm means that the height and width of the body of the pylons themselves can be reduced, decreasing their visual and EMF impact vis-à-vis the conventional design.

At the Eeklo-Noord substation the existing 150-kV line between the Eeklo-Noord and Bruges Waggelwater substations will be moved underground for a short distance in order to avoid crossing the new 380-kV line. Therefore, this work will start first, thereby allowing the construction of the 380-kV line.

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3. Van Maerlant transition station (Vivenkapelle)

To the east of Vivenkapelle the line will go underground, requiring the construction of a transition station (the Van Maerlant transition station). For the transition from an overhead to an underground high-voltage line, a transition station is needed at every transition. So as to limit the number of cable connections, a switchable transition station has been chosen in this case, involving gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) installed in a building. Tube joints will be used to bring the ends of the underground cables and overhead lines into this building. The site will have a surface area of approximately 1 hectare.

The building will be 11 metres high and will have a black quartz finish. The use of black will give the building a special appearance and will also ensure that the building fits well into its surroundings and merges into the greenery around it.

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4. New underground 380-kV line between Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle) and Gezelle (De Spie)

The underground section between Vivenkapelle and De Spie will be around 10 km long and will consist of four three-phase transmission lines (12 physical cables). The cables will be about 2 metres underground and be surrounded by dolomite and screened off with tiles. 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 fixed 25-metre space above the cables must be kept clear of buildings and trees, but it will be possible to grow crops in the soil above the cables  once the work is completed.

Inspection wells will be located at intervals of 700 to 1,000 metres. The wells will provide access to the cable connectors. The underground cables will run through tunnel shafts under the Boudewijnkanaal.

As much as possible, the underground high-voltage line will be laid in a standard trench. Where the cable crosses obstacles which cannot be interrupted, such as certain roads, waterways or water courses, directional drilling or tunnels may be used. Where a road or dam is interrupted, conduits are fitted to keep the interruption as short as possible . The high-voltage cables will then be pulled through these conduits.

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5. Gezelle ‘De Spie’ transition station (Bruges)

The line will return above ground at the prospective De Spie business park. A similar transition station will be established, with the GIS set up in a building with a black quartz finish. Two shunt reactors will be installed in the Gezelle transition station to balance the voltage level of the electricity grid. In terms of their construction and appearance, these installations will be similar to transformers. As they generate a substantial level of noise, soundproof walls will be fitted.

A green buffer zone will also be set up around the transition station.

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6. New overhead 380-kV line between Gezelle (De Spie) and Stevin (Zeebrugge)

A new section of overhead line (1 km) will be constructed from De Spie. This section will then follow the existing pylons for the 150-kV line between Blauwe Toren and Zeebrugge. The existing pylons will be demolished, and new pylons will be constructed for the double 380-kV line. Insulated crossarms will again be used so that there will scarcely be any difference noticeable from the existing 150-kV line (also see the information about the section of the line between Eeklo-Noord and Vivenkapelle).The line will reach the new Stevin high-voltage substation via a new section of overhead line (3 km).

The pylons from the existing 150-kV Blauwe Toren-Zeebrugge line will be demolished.

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7. Stevin high-voltage substation (Zeebrugge)

At the crossroads between the N31 (Baron De Maerenlaan) and the N34 (Kustlaan), the new Stevin high-voltage substation will be built on the former military site. This substation will house the switchgear and transformers for the 380-kV, 220-kV and 150-kV facilities and will act as a junction for:

  • the 380-kV line leading inland (Zomergem);
  • the 150-kV line connecting up with the local grid for the coastal region;
  • the 220-kV cables arriving onshore from the offshore wind farms.

Here too, GIS will be used and housed in buildings. All the transformers carrying out the voltage conversions will be surrounded by soundproof walls, ensuring compliance with the strict requirements of the Flemish Decree concerning general provisions relating to environmental policy (VLAREM).

The construction phase for the Stevin high-voltage substation will consist of three main stages. First of all, work will start on levelling the soil and carrying out the relevant demolition work (buildings, fuel-oil tanks, etc.). Then the civil works willa start, construction of the buildings, foundations for the transformers and shunt reactors, including the soundproof walls, sewerage and finishing of the site. The last stage will involve all the electrical work: the installation of the transformers and shunt reactors, the assembly of the GIS bays in the building and the GIS tubes and of the low-voltage facilities and the associated testing. Overall, the following time-frames will apply for the various stages:

  • levelling of the soil and demolition work: 10 weeks;
  • civil work: 45 weeks;
  • electrical work: 52 weeks.

The civil and electrical work will partially overlap with one another.

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8. New underground 150-kV line between Stevin (Zeebrugge) and Zeebrugge Blondeellaan

A new underground 150-kV line will be constructed between the new Stevin high-voltage substation and the existing substation at Blondeellaan.

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9. Demolition and moving underground of the existing 150-kV line to the north of Mald egem between Eeklo and Bruges

As additional compensation, the existing northern 150-kV line that runs between Bruges and Eeklo will be moved underground, with negotiations to this end being started in late 2014 with the affected towns and municipalities of Bruges, Damme and Maldegem to decide on the route of the new underground lines.

The northernmost overhead 150-kV line between Eeklo and Bruges can only be demolished after the new Stevin project lines (both 380 kV and 150 kV) have been commissioned.

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10. Demolition of the 150-kV line to the south of Maldegem between Eeklo and Bruges (after the northern line has been moved underground)

The southernmost overhead 150-kV line between Eeklo and Bruges can only be demolished after the new 150-kV cable between Bruges and Eeklo has been moved underground and commissioned.

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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.

<div align="center"> This content requires the Unity Web Player<br /><br /> <a href="http://www.unity3d.com/unity-web-player-2.x">Install the Unity Web Player today!</a> </div>

Navigation

You will need to use both 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

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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 for permits

 

Permit procedures

Planning permit

An application for a planning permit was made to the Flemish government. Following the opinion of the bodies concerned and a public inquiry, the planning permit was issued by the Flemish government on 4 June 2014.

This permit covers the whole project and relates more specifically to:

  • the line infrastructure work and the 10-km underground cable between the Gezelle (Bruges) and Van Maerlant (Vivenkapelle) substations;
  • new buildings and facilities for the construction of the tunnel under the Boudewijnkanaal;
  • the Stevin substation in Zeebrugge;
  • the Van Maerlant substation in Vivenkapelle;
  • the Gezelle substation in Bruges.

Road permit and Declaration of Public Utility

Pursuant to the Act of 10 March 1925, applications were made to Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and 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 was 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 2013.

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

Environmental permit procedure

A class I environmental permit was requested for the Stevin, Van Maerlant and Gezelle high-voltage stations for the municipalities in question (Bruges and Damme). This environmental permit was submitted on 28 October 2013 and was declared complete and acceptable on 27 November 2013. At a meeting on 27 May 2014, the authorities of the Province of West Flanders awarded an environmental permit to Elia for the construction of the Vivenkapelle-Damme, Lissewege-Bruges and Zeebrugge-Bruges high-voltage substations.

‘Project-MER’ procedure

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

The ‘project-MER’ was the environmental impact report that must be drafted for the project. The ‘project-MER’ studied and assessed the environmental impact of the selected routes and locations. It looked 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’ was produced after a public consultation on the information document which gave 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 could 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 to keep affected residents properly informed.

‘RUP’ procedure

Inclusion of the route and infrastructure in a land-use plan was the first step before permits could be issued for the construction of the new high-voltage substation and high-voltage line. The regional land-use plan was then adopted by the Flemish government. This was 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 Immovable 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 in the municipalities affected 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 2011 to ensure that the people affected by the plans were properly informed.

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, which they did on 27 January 2012 after examining the objections that had been 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 described the various possible routes and proposed which environmental impacts were 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 could give their comments on it. During the consultation period the public could indicate which specific additional aspects needed 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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Below you will find some additional information which we hope will answer any questions you might have.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why the preference for an overhead line?

The Stevin project involves a line with a very high power (2 x 3,000 MVA) at a voltage of 380 kV. For a number of reasons, Elia has opted for an overhead line. However, over a distance of around 10 km the line will be laid underground, as provided for in the definitive version of the land-use plan (RUP or ‘Ruimtelijk Uitvoeringsplan’) approved by the Flemish government.

1. Environmental factors

Both underground and overhead lines have an environmental impact. With overhead lines, there is less of a physical impact, as this 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 where no trees or buildings are allowed and which indeed cannot be built on at all. During the work, a corridor about 40 m wide is needed to store soil, the trench for laying cables, transport and access.

Both overhead and underground lines generate low-frequency magnetic fields of 50 Hz. In the immediate vicinity of an underground cable, magnetic fields may be stronger than close to an overhead line, because underground cables are buried between 1.5 m and 2 m under the 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 means 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 line is less reliable than an overhead one. Far fewer structural faults occur in overhead lines than underground ones. If an underground cable stops working, it will remain out of service 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. As a result, a number of underground cables have to be laid to ensure the security of the energy supply.

All of this increases the technical complexity of the grid.

3. Economic factors

An underground 380 kV line has a much higher cost price than an overhead one. In the case of this project, the estimated cost of an underground line is seven to ten times that of an overhead one. As underground lines are a very recent development, there is only a limited pool of technical experience available, making it difficult to predict the service life of such a line. Moreover, increased, costly investments on replacements can be expected in the long term. The factors just mentioned will result in higher transmission tariffs.

What does this all mean?

In the case of new 380 kV lines that are integrated into the grid, Elia regards constructing them above ground as overhead lines as the economically and socially more acceptable option provided that routes and technologies are used that have the least possible impact on people and the environment. Elia only considers an underground line for a voltage of 380 kV on a level footing with an overhead line in the case of short lines for connecting up generation units with capacities of up to 1,000 MW. Such lines are at terminal branches of the grid, meaning that the operation of the whole grid is not at risk if there is a line failure.

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What is Elia doing as regards the impact on people and the environment?

Elia is making every effort to minimise the impact on people and the environment. Various measures have been taken to limit the number of cases of cables passing over homes and to spare residential districts and areas of countryside as much as possible.

The route and design chosen were selected to minimise the number of homes with power lines passing over them. Maximum use is being made of existing pylons by using 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 has been upgraded to 380 kV, some existing lines will be demolished. The 150 kV line between Eeklo and Bruges that runs to the south of Maldegem will be completely demolished, while the 150 kV overhead line from Eeklo to Bruges that runs to the north of Maldegem will be moved underground and hence will also be broken up. Studies about the effect on the landscape will be carried out regarding the location of the high-voltage substation and the transition stations, and the appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that the facilities blend into the landscape as much as possible, with a carefully chosen architectural design for the Stevin site and green buffer zones around the Van Maerlant and Gezelle transition stations. The selected route will also involve as much bundling as possible with an existing line and the re-use of existing lines. For the new section of the line between Eeklo and Vivenkapelle, new types of pylons will be used to make sure that the new 380 kV line's appearance fits in with that of the existing 150 kV line.

For more details, see 'Alleviating measures'.

Both overhead and underground high-voltage lines generate very-low-frequency magnetic fields. See 'Electric and magnetic fields' for more details about magnetic fields. These can be reduced by configuring the three-phase transmission lines appropriately (specifically, by using the three-phase transmission lines in 'reverse phase').


What practical steps is Elia taking to minimise the project's impact?

Elia is making every effort to minimise the impact on local residents and the area surrounding the Stevin route by taking measures such as the following:

  • demolishing the 150 kV line to the south of Maldegem after the Stevin site has been completed; 
  • moving the 150 kV line to the north of Maldegem underground after the Stevin site has been completed; 
  • laying 10 km of the line underground; 
  • coming up with an architectural and landscape design for the Stevin high-voltage substation; 
  • setting up a compensation scheme for local residents; 
  • putting landscaping in place around the Van Maerlant and Gezelle substations; 
  • reducing the visual impact by installing pylons with insulated crossarms.

For the Stevin substation in Zeebrugge, for example, we have opted to coordinate the landscaping around the high-voltage substation with the developments around the Oudemaarspolder. A long embankment will be constructed parallel to Kustlaan, forming a physical and visual barrier between this road and the substation. The substation is also 5 m below the level of the road so as to lessen the visual impact. We will also be making part of the site accessible to the public, with the creation of a car park that can be used by daytrippers at the western tip of the site. In addition, the architectural design includes the buildings being covered with wooden planks and a large green roof so that the buildings blend well into the surrounding countryside. Similar investments are also planned at other points along the route.

In this way, Elia is aiming to respect the wishes of residents, who asked for the visual impact to be kept to a minimum.

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Can I getcompensation from Elia?

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

Electricity supply is a public utility, and 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. Since the construction and operation of such a grid is needed for the transmission of electricity, the electricity legislation provides Elia with a specific framework for using both public land and private properties to perform its activities.

As part of its efforts to compensate farmers for any disadvantage they might suffer from the project, 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. To view this document, please see 'Compensation policy'.

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

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

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

(Both land which the new overhead line between Eeklo and Vivenkapelle will pass over and land crossed by a number of short new sections of line at De Spie and at the Stevin high-voltage substation at Zeebrugge)
  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 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 overhead line (the 60 metre corridor 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

    In the case of 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 owners cannot still sell their land to Elia subsequently (up to three years after the line is commissioned). 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 which the existing line passes over will therefore remain unchanged. Compensation will be paid for damage of any kind to properties as a result of the work being carried out.

 

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What about electromagnetic fields?

To learn more about electric and magnetic fields, please see 'Electric and magnetic fields'. All the Belgian legal requirements relating to living near high-voltage lines are met.

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Downloads Stevin:

  1. Plan-MER
  2. GRUP
  3. Project-MER
  4. Environmental permit
  5. Application document

Documents for the plan-MER-procedure

Documents for the GRUP procedure

Documents for the ‘project-MER’ procedure

Documents for the environmental permit

Download the application document

General publications

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 was sought in cooperation with the municipalities and everyone else involved. In the implementation phase, we plan to update those affected with a communications campaign about the steps being taken.

Once the locations of the lines and pylons are arewere known, a contact person from Elia will visit will visitvisited residents to decide on the practical arrangements in a spirit of constructive dialogue.

During the work, a contact person will also be available to provide information and minimise the disruption 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 Arianne Mertens
  • 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