"We can now impose our own fines"

The High Council for the Environment rejects the claims that environmental crimes often go unpunished.

According to figures collected by the Flemish MP Stefaan Van Hecke of the green party Groen!, environmental crimes often go unpunished.

Between 2005 and 2007, only some 5 percent of the cases received by the judicial authorities was actually dealt with (88 out of 1,557 cases). "The number of prosecutions in environmental cases is distressingly low", says Mr Van Hecke.

Inspection teams are doing a good job, but it turns out that the follow-up in court leaves a lot to be desired. Between 2005 and 2007, 120 people were eventually convicted on a total of 1,557 (potential)  cases. Mr Van Hecke points out that a lot depends on the judicial district. "We don't have a general policy."

The High Council for the Environment says that things have changed, and that the administration can now impose fines on its own, without the intervention of the judicial authorities.

Illegal dumping is a serious problem in many parts of Belgium, both in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.