The activists began their protest at around 7am. A spokeswoman for Ineos, the company that owns the site, said that the protesters cut through a fence to gain access. However, the activists deny this. They say that they number around 100 and are members of climate and social action groups.
One of the protesters told VRT News that "Ineos wants to build a polluting plastic factory here and this will mean that a lot of woodland will need to be chopped down. We believe that in the age we live in this is unacceptable. Investing in disposable plastic is absurd, isn’t it?”
The protesters are also unhappy that the factory will run on shale gas imported from the United States. They say that the factory will increase CO2 emissions at the port of Antwerp by 5%.
The project has been given the go ahead by the city, provincial and regional authorities. The activists hope that their protest will make the Flemish Government take a different view and that construction of the factory won’t go ahead. They say that they intend to remain at the site for as long as it takes.
The police are at the scene but has not yet intervened. As a chemical company Ineos is subject to extra security measures. Spokeswoman Nathalie Meert said that other companies in the vicinity have been informed of the protesters’ presence.
Ineos adds that the ethylene and propylene that will be produced at the new plant are essential parts of products that are of great value in our everyday lives and are not only used for disposable plastics. The company adds that the construction of the plant will serve to ensure the future of the chemical industry in Europe. Moreover, the new plant will emit 50% less CO2 than existing plants of its size.
Ineos also promises to plant trees elsewhere to compensate for those that will have to be felled to make way for its new factory.