5 million euro and 10 years needed to repair damage caused by fire at Brecht riffle range

An initial estimation carried out by the Flemish Woodland and Nature Agency puts the cost of repairing the damage caused by the heath fire at an area of natural beauty that is used as a riffle range in Brecht (Antwerp Province) at 5 million euro. It will also take an estimated 10 years before the area has fully recovered from the fire. Around 570 hectares of heathland were destroyed in the fire that broke out on 23 April after a shooting practice by soldiers from the Belgian Army. 

The fire was caused by the soldiers using inflammable tracer bullets. These are special bullets that remain visible once they have been fired enabling the marksman to follow them on their way to the target. The bullets were used despite the weather conditions being too dry for them to have been used safely.

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ the Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (nationalist) said that restoring the area to its former glory will be a long drawn-out process. Work to restore the area of heathland will commerce in the Autumn.

Last week Ms Demir announced that she holds the Federal Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder (Francophone socialist) in default for the fire.

The Flemish Environment Minister told ‘De ochtend’ why she believes that this is the case “The fire happened more than a month ago. We then asked the Federal Minister to cooperate with the investigation and restoration process. We still haven’t received an answer”.  

As a mistake made by people in the employ of the (Federal) Defence Department is going to cost the (Flemish) Environment Department 5 million euro, Ms Demir says she has no other choice than to formally instigate recovery proceeding against Ms Dedonder.


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