Demir has the Boerenbond lobby investigating red companies on administration

The Flemish Minister of the Environment Zuhal Demir has Audit Flanders investigates the extent to which the contacts between Boerenbond and the Danish Nature and Forest Agency have led to positive advice on permits for agricultural companies, even though these were on a red list as nitrogen peak loaders.

Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) announced on Tuesday in the Flemish Parliament’s Environment Committee that she had asked Revision Flanders to examine the advice of the Flemish Government Administration for Nature and Forests and the contacts that existed with interest. groups such as Landboforbundet.

The members of parliament have been able to consult the e-mail traffic on the minister’s laptop and ascertain how the contact between the Danish Nature and Forestry Authority (ANB) and the Boerenbonden in a number of specific permit dossiers had taken place with the result that advice became favorable advice. This is the red list of holdings, which was drawn up in 2015. These are 58 companies that will have to close their doors as nitrogen loaders in 2025, but which have meanwhile been granted a permit.

Direct contacts

»I have to agree with you that in various cases there were direct contacts between the Danish Nature and Forestry Authority and Boerenbond. These are also files that were relicensed or expanded after 2014, despite being on the list of red companies or even explicitly stating in their application that they had an impact score that was higher or lower than 50 percent , “Demir said in response to a question from Flemish MP Mieke Schauvliege (Green).

Demir questions this. »I must hereby conclude that at least the impression can be created that despite alarm signals that should have been based on the rules at the time, the consultations between Boerenbond and the Danish Nature and Forest Agency led to positive assessments and permits issued as a result. .



At the very least, the impression can be created that the consultations between Boerenbond and the Danish Nature and Forest Agency have resulted in positive assessments and issued permits as a result.

Zuhal Demir

The Flemish Minister of the Environment

The Minister wants the matter clarified. “Based on that conclusion, I have no choice but to order an audit from Audit Vlaanderen to examine ANB’s advice from 2014 to today and check it in relation to the applicable rules. Whether it will be a general audit or a forensic audit, leaves I to the wisdom of Audit Flanders, says Demir.

Irregularities

The investigation may shed new light on the whole red corporate case, which has now caused controversy for weeks. Questions were raised because some farms are said to have only been informed by telephone, and even denied this, such as the farm in Averbode Abbey.

Several issues arose because some of the red companies had still been licensed even though they were on the red list. The Flemish government had been very careless with regard to the rule of law, or so it seemed, but now there appear to be irregularities.

The question now on the table is whether direct contacts between the consultant Nature en Bos and the interest group Boerenbond were justified if they gave rise to a change in the advice in specific dossiers without a scientifically legitimate justification for this. The question immediately arises as to whether not many more companies should no longer have been granted a permit, or even should have been designated as red companies.

House surveys with former environmental inspector

On Tuesday, by order of an investigating judge, a house search was carried out in Antwerp’s environmental inspectorate to look for a former manager’s archives, which according to an audit from Audit Flanders had committed corruption, conflicts of interest and irregularities.

In four files – three on environmental issues at chemical companies in the port and one on an agricultural company in Ravels – Audit Flanders identified violations. Environment Minister Zuhal Demir and the head of the environment department Peter Cabus lodged a complaint with the public prosecutor.

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