The Zeeland provincial council has agreed to revised plans to flood part of the Hedwige polder in a bid to settle the argument once and for all, according to media reports on Thursday.
‘After seven years, it is time to end this discussion,’ local officials said in a letter to junior farm minister Henk Bleker.
Bleker hopes his new plan to only flood part of the polder will satisfy Brussels, which had insisted the entire area be put under water to compensate for nature lost by deepening the Westerschelde estuary.
150 football pitches
Now Bleker is suggesting flooding one third of the polder – an area the size of around 150 football pitches, plus a couple of other pieces of land and a golf course. The minister says he expects the EU and Belgian government to agree to the compromise.
However, the anti-immigration PVV, which has an alliance with the minority government does not accept the revised plan and nor does Labour, meaning the proposal may fail to generate majority support in parliament, even if Brussels agrees.
In addition, the Telegraaf reports that Belgium will refuse to pay its share of the cost if the Netherlands only floods part of the polder – and that could cost the government an extra €62m.
Belgium was due to pay between €62m and €80m towards the cost of the work, such as building new dykes. Now the plan has changed ‘the Netherlands can whistle for its money’, Flemish MP Bart Martens is quoted as saying.
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