Nuclear power plants in Zeeland: province is not about it, but does have an opinion

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Borssele was designated last December as the preferred location for two new nuclear power plants. It is not yet certain whether construction will continue. Not the province of Zeeland, but the national government will decide on this in 2024. Nevertheless, nuclear power plants are an important theme in the Zeeland election campaign for the Provincial Council.

‘Opportunities and conditions’. When it was officially announced on 9 December that the government prefers Zeeland when new nuclear power plants are built in the Netherlands, the provincial government of Zeeland embraced these two words.

Opportunities, because new nuclear power plants, for example, create more employment in the province. It was also mentioned that surrounding villages could benefit from the residual heat from the nuclear power plants.

Conditions, because Zeeland can ask for something in return from the government if the nuclear power plants are built. In recent years, new high-voltage pylons have been erected to transport Borsele’s electricity further into the country.

Many people from Zeeland find the power stations especially ugly and harmful to the landscape of the so-called Zak van Zuid-Beveland. One condition could be that electricity cables must henceforth be laid underground.

High voltage cables at Borsele

At an information evening organized by the municipality of Borsele (with one s, as opposed to the village) at the end of February in Vijverzicht village hall, critical residents considered what their conditions could be for the possible arrival of new nuclear power plants.

To help the municipality and residents with this, a special ‘environmental manager for energy transition projects’ has been appointed since the beginning of this year, who must map out the ideas, opinions and positions for and against. A report should be available by the end of 2023.

That area manager, Michelle Witte, was also present at the residents’ evening and was given the benefit of the doubt for the time being. “I have only heard positive reports about her so far,” said village resident Rudy Visser. “The approach is that she is there for the residents …. although she is employed by the municipality.”

Ria Boonman, chairman of the village council of ‘s-Heerenhoek, a village near Borssele, is more cautious: “People’s confidence in the government is very minimal. It should not be the case that the person who pays determines. Trust must be built up.”

Residents talk to each other about additional nuclear power plants

In the village of Borssele itself, tensions have now risen to such an extent that residents have dismissed the village council during a tumultuous meeting on March 6. The confidence that the national government can guarantee the quality of life in the village is minimal.

Theme in provincial elections

Although strictly speaking they are not about it, many Zeeland parties express their views on the subject of nuclear power plants in their election programme. “We are not about it, but we do have an opinion about it,” say the members of Parliament in Middelburg regularly.

Based on an opinion poll, the current coalition of CDA, VVD, SGP and PvdA could continue. Together they would even win a seat.

The first three lots are for new nuclear power plants. Only the PvdA, which forms one list with GroenLinks in these elections in Zeeland, is strongly opposed.

The election program of 50Plus is also clear in this regard: “At least two new nuclear power plants in Borssele.” D66 comes up with an interim solution: “Small modular reactors must be used in Zeeland”. So new nuclear power stations, but not too big.

But whatever the result after Wednesday, the Zeeland vote will not be decisive in the case of the new nuclear power plants anyway, because the cabinet decides. Of course, the Zeeland politicians keep a close eye on every new development and try to get the best out of it for the province.

  • Cabinet: accelerate two new nuclear power plants in Borssele
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