Protest as nationalist hold congress on “energy and ecology”

The Flemish nationalist party N-VA held a congress in Ghent on Saturday. Theme of the congress was “energy and ecology”. A number of demonstrators from the 11 March Movement (11 maart-beweging) that campaigns against nuclear power staged a protest outside the Flanders Expo congress hall. One of the speakers was the American author environment policy writer and advocate of nuclear energy Michael Shellenberger.    

The Flemish nationalist party N-VA held a congress in Ghent on Saturday. Theme of the congress was “energy and ecology”. A number of demonstrators from the 11 March Movement (11 maart-beweging) that campaigns against nuclear power staged a protest outside the Flanders Expo congress hall.

One of the speakers was the American author environment policy writer and advocate of nuclear energy Michael Shellenberger.    Michael Shellenberger is a self-proclaimed “eco-modernist” that believes that nuclear power provides an emissions-free way of providing for our energy needs. He considers solar and wind energy to be a threat to biodiversity for reasons that include the space that such “green” energy facilities take up.  

The Flemish nationalists don’t believe that it will be possible to abandon nuclear energy by the 2025 deadline. The party is in favour of prolonging the life of the newest reactors and putting back the date at which Belgium closes its nuclear power stations for good to by 40 years to 2065.

The party believes that this will be necessary to ensure an affordable energy supply.  

The Chairwoman of Saturday’s congress Anneleen Van Bossuyt said "If we were to close the nuclear power station in 2025 we would be saddled with a huge bill amounting to 9 billion euro in order to amongst other things build extra gas-fired power stations. However, that would result in 6 million tonnes extra CO2 being emitted and we say no to that because it is important to us to release carbon emissions, but in an affordable way.” 

Protest by anti-nuclear campaigners

The congress attracted protest from the 11 March Movement, an anti-nuclear power group named after the date in 2011 on which a disaster took place at the Fukushima nuclear powers station in Japan.   

The 11 March Movement’s Johan Malcorps who also works for the Green Group in the Flemish Parliament told VRT News that “This isn’t eco-realism. Eco-fantasist or eco-surrealist would be a better for the people from the N-VA. Nuclear power is certainly not the solution. It is extremely expensive".

"We can better invest in solar power, wind energy, energy storage, in battery factories, hydrogen factories. This is what we need not expanding the life of the nuclear power stations and certainly not new nuclear power stations",Mr Malcorps added.

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