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Participatory environmental impact assessment of the Oosterweel link
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Participatory environmental impact assessment of the Oosterweel link

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The Oosterweel link

From 2011 until 2019, Antea Group was responsible for carrying out several environmental impact assessments in the margin of the Oosterweel link project in Antwerp. This consisted of the coordination of the environmental impact assessment of the plans (plan-MER) for the draft regional land use plan (GRUP, Gewestelijk Ruimtelijk Uitvoeringsplan) regarding changes to the Oosterweel link. At a later stage, from 2015 until 2019, the project EIAs in the margin of the applications for planning permission were established for the infrastructure works on the Left Bank/Linkeroever and the Oosterweel link itself. A participatory approach was implemented, to develop designs of reasonable alternatives and obtain an optimised and widely-supported preferred design, in close consultation with all the stakeholders. This was done by organising Werkbanken (or workshops), supervised by the intendant in charge of the plans for the covering of Antwerp’s Ring road.

The brief

Oosterweel is an ambitious, large-scale, and complex project. It is also sometimes referred to as the ‘construction site of the century’. The Oosterweel link will close Antwerp’s Ring road, by building a third Scheldt crossing, but will also thoroughly change its current appearance. Additional space will be created along the Ring road in addition to space for other types of transport.

The Ring road will ‘disappear’ underground in several locations, thanks to new tunnels under the Scheldt, Amerikadok and the Albert Canal. Other sections of the Ring road will be covered or deepened, creating new space for parks, squares and play areas, cycling paths, and so on. In areas where the Ring road will not be covered, green verges/reservations will be built to reduce noise nuisance and conceal the Ring road from view.

Besides the primary objective to improve road safety and traffic flow on the Ring road, the project also ties in with a broader series of intervention, focussing on other forms of mobility that are more sustainable and congestion-free. Additional cycling paths and park & ride areas will be built, among others.

The solution

In the margin of the draft regional land use plan for changes to the Oosterweel link, we led a multidisciplinary team, from scoping to the approval of the final plan-EIA. We coordinated the multidisciplinary consultation process at every stage of the plan-EIA process: drawing up the interdisciplinary reference situation, aligning the content of the sub-reports with their structure, drawing up a final conclusion and a non-technical summary, and the organisation of and reporting about the consultation with the principal, EIA experts, other experts, and the administration.

We carried out all the cross-discipline environmental impact assessments to draw up the project EIAs for the infrastructure works on Linkeroever and the Oosterweel link. We developed reasonable alternatives or variants in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, working based on the agreed criteria. These were examined in detail, in function of their impact on the various environmental disciplines that are involved in environmental impact assessments. Based on the applied research method and the assessment and significance frameworks, the required mitigating measures were proposed. After feedback from the stakeholders, these were developed and integrated in the preferred design.

Partners and collaborations

In the framework of the establishment of the EIAs, we worked with various parties and actors. We relied on the technical expertise of the dBA-plan engineering consultancy for the noise and vibration aspects. Geonius provided support for the construction-technical research of the Toekomstverbond (Alliance for the Future). We worked very closely with the Werkbank members, i.e., representatives of the official and administrative levels as well as groups that initially were action groups but over time became involved in the design process, such as Ademloos, Straten-Generaal and Ringland.


Met dit project ondersteunen wij de Duurzame Ontwikkelingsdoelstellingen van de Verenigde Naties:

SDG 9 - Industrie, innovatie en infrastructuurSDG 11 - Duurzame steden en gemeenschappenSDG 14 - Leven onder waterSDG 15 - Leven op het landSDG 16 - Vrede, justitie en sterke publieke dienstenSDG 17 - Partnerschappen

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