October 2016

High-voltage cable can now follow regional roads thanks to the maintenance work on the Montgomery Tunnel

On 27 October 2016, Elia, at the request of the Commune of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, presented to local residents an alternative route for the laying of a high-voltage cable.

Less than a year ago, the Commune of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, in light of its local residents' response to a high-voltage line being laid between the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Charles V substations, asked Elia to suspend work so that it could find another route for the cable.

If technically feasible, Elia always tries to maintain the maximum possible distance between its infrastructure and residential areas. A year ago, the only technical solution available to Elia was to lay the cable along a route taking in Avenue du Prince Héritier and Avenue Albertyn. However, the maintenance work carried out on the Montgomery Tunnel means that it is now feasible for the Elia high-voltage cable to pass via the Boulevard Brand Whitlock/Avenue Henri Dietrich/Avenue de Woluwe-Saint-Lambert intersection.

Elia wasted no time in taking the appropriate samples along the whole of the new proposed route to ensure the technical feasibility of these plans. Findings of the soil study are positive.

You can see the new route for the Elia high-voltage cable below:

December 2015 : Elia meets the residents of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert

At the request of the municipal authorities, several Elia managers participated in an information session held for the residents of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert on 8 December 2015. The session primarily focused on the site linking the high-voltage electrical substations at Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Charles-Quint.

Many questions were answered, most of which concerned the choice of route, regulatory obligations during the execution of such a site, and the action taken by Elia to limit the emission of electromagnetic fields. 

The site has now been shut down at the request of the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert municipal authorities. Elia will meet the municipal council in the near future with a view to presenting potential alternative routes through the municipality.

November 2015

The renewal of the Brussels grid is one of the many projects included in the Federal Development Plan. Work has now been ongoing for several months.

During the laying of the connection between the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Charles-Quint electrical substations, a number of residents of the municipalities of Woluwe-Saint -Lambert and Schaerbeek sent us their concerns about this work.

In coordination with the municipal authorities involved, Elia has pledged to meet the residents and answer their questions. Three meetings have been organised over the past few weeks with Schaerbeek’s Comité Pelletier and an information session is planned at the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert municipal hall at 8 p.m. on 8 December 2015.

As the manager in charge of communications regarding Elia’s infrastructure projects, I wanted to provide you with general information regarding the ongoing project, which you can view on the Elia website. Feel free to read this information, but remember that you can also contact my team via email at

We will be available to answer your questions and hear your comments on 8 December – we want to work in complete transparency with the municipal authorities as well as you, the residents!

I look forward to meeting you and reading your comments.

Sophie De Baets
Infrastructure Projects Communication Manager


The renewal of the Brussels grid is one of a number of projects included in the Federal Development Plan.

Belgium’s regional and national authorities have tasked Elia with suggesting and subsequently making the most pertinent investments with a view to modifying the high-voltage electricity grid in light of developments on the energy market. The aim is to continue to guarantee the grid’s reliability and economic efficiency, as well as the longevity of the solutions chosen.

All projects carried out by Elia have received prior approval from the authorities within a federal plan and/or multiple regional plans. Elia also works closely with distribution system operators (DSOs).

The Brussels grid

The renewal of the Brussels grid fulfils three top aims:

  1. Replace infrastructure coming to the end of its service life.
  2. Take out of service oil-filled cable connections, as they pose a risk to the environment (land pollution).
  3. Guarantee the security and reliability of the region’s electricity supply while adapting to the changes to (current and potential) focal areas in consumption and the location of generation sites.

Phase 1: Brussels East

Phase 1 of the grid renewal focuses on the east of the Brussels-Capital Region. It involves restructuring the 150 kV connections between the substations in Schaerbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Ixelles.

The current connection between Schaerbeek and Ixelles no longer guarantees the required reliability and poses an environmental risk; at the end of this phase, the connection will be completely taken out of service.

Elia will create three new 150-kV underground connections to replace the current connection:

  1. One connection between the electrical substations at Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Charles-Quint (rue Charles-Quint in Brussels). This connection is currently being finalised and runs through the municipalities of the City of Brussels, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Schaerbeek.
  2. One connection between the electrical substations at Schaerbeek and Charles-Quint. This connection was completed in August 2015, and runs through the municipalities of the City of Brussels and Schaerbeek.
  3. One connection between the electrical substations at Charles-Quint and Pacheco. This connection will be installed over the coming months and will run through the municipalities of the City of Brussels and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode.

Phase 2: Brussels West

The second phase focuses on the west of the Brussels-Capital Region. It will involve the renewal and restructuring of the connections between the substations of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Héliport, and Bruegel (Flemish Region).

Although all projects are subject to a specific government mandate, Elia must adhere to a strict permit procedure before any sites are opened. Elia pledges to only begin work once it has received official permission from the competent authorities.

In the Brussels-Capital Region, Elia adheres to:

  • the new Regional Government Ordinance of 3 July 2008 concerning worksites on roads;
  • the Regional Government Decree of 11 July 2013 concerning the implementation of worksites on roads.

These pieces of legislation require more intensive coordination between public utility companies installing an infrastructure underground. They strive to limit the opening of streets with a view to minimising the nuisance caused by sites.

In contrast, before work begins, several authorities are responsible for issuing various permits according to their specific responsibilities (FPS Economy, the Region, the municipality) and a consultation on the chosen route is always held with the authorities in charge of roads before each project begins.

The route chosen from among the potential alternatives, taking into account technical limitations, will always be that which is the most respectful of the environment in the broadest sense.  

Federal (or regional) plan
  • Determines the connections to link one point to another, the commissioning date, the estimated budget
Project launch (Elia and road authorities)
  • Analysis of underground utilities
  • Extensive analysis of the route (topographical surveys, sounding if required)
  • Route recorded in OSIRIS schedules
  • Presentation of the route during transfers of the site schedules (Municipalities and Region)
Road permit (FPS)
  • Submission of an extensive file
  • Various consultations conducted by the FPS (42 days to issue opinions)
  • Royal Decree (comprising the advice of the FPS as well as the list of streets affected per municipality)
Site Coordination Committee (CCC)
  • Planning work and the details of the phases for laying the connection
  • Requests launched in OSIRIS
  • Submission to the Committee (CCC)
  • Transfer of decisions to Elia and road authorities (via OSIRIS)
Road authority
  • Contact with the government to apply specific regulations
  • Implement the various practical elements associated with the site (use of the road, mobility, safety)
  • Execution of the site, section by section

The connection between the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Charles-Quint (rue Charles-Quint, Brussels) electrical substations

The work on the connection between the electrical substations at Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Charles-Quint is currently being finalised. The connection is 7 km long and runs through the municipalities of the City of Brussels, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Schaerbeek.

Potential alternatives

The connection route was chosen in coordination with the authorities in charge of the roads involved (the Brussels-Capital Region, the municipalities of Schaerbeek and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert), taking into account various criteria:

  • Access to the new connection’s input and output substations.
  • The maximum distance from homes.
  • The space available to execute the site.
  • The presence of utilities in the roads (space of at least 60 cm must be available around the cable without any special protection).
  • The presence of infrastructure (e.g. tram, road tunnel, metro, train tunnel, canal).
  • Mobility limitations (defined in the Site Ordinance).

Several alternative routes have been studied and put forward to road authorities but unfortunately none of them were chosen. They included the following:

  • A route crossing the main roads of the municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, which then met and crossed Boulevard Brand Whitlock before moving along the roads of the municipality of Schaerbeek. This suggestion was not feasible owing to the presence of multiple utilities as well as tram rails.
  • A route running through Montgomery square and along Boulevard Brand Whitlock. This suggestion was not feasible owing to existing underground installations (metro, trams, tunnels, metro stations, major manifolds and lateral sewers, and a number of utilities).

The chosen route

Detailed route (in French)

Laying the underground connection

Laying an underground connection in an urban environment requires a specific structure. To guarantee the continuation of acceptable mobility conditions, work is normally structured by sections measuring approximately 450 metres and in a non-linear manner. It would be difficult to open a huge 7-km site in one go, which would run the risk of obstructing traffic over an excessive distance for several months. Furthermore, every 150-kV cable reel can only cover a maximum of 1 km.

As such, for certain sections, this structure requires pipes to be laid in which the cables are later installed.

The three cables forming the connection are installed in a consecutive cloverleaf formation or in pipes.

Installation in a consecutive cloverleaf formation

Installation in pipes

For as long as the site is open, Elia pledges to guarantee the quality of the work, safety, coordination with the competent authorities, and to notify those residents directly affected beforehand.

As for electromagnetic fields, Elia promises to take the action required to fulfil the obligations specified in its permits and to respect the applicable standards and/or recommendations.


  • Underground connections are always laid under roads (never pavements).
  • The safety of the site is guaranteed through the use of appropriate signposting and markings.
  • An independent expert checks the set-up of the site.

Quality of the work

  • The company responsible for the work is one of the five companies approved by Elia in Belgium.
  • Every day, Elia checks that the specifications defined with the authorities are being thoroughly respected and inspects the equipment used.
  • An independent external body is tasked with performing checks before the line is commissioned.

Coordination with the authorities

Regular contact is established with road authorities, who are invited to attend the weekly site meetings and to check the application of the measures required by the permits awarded to Elia.

An independent surveyor is responsible for calculating the exact reference of the location of the connection with a view to guaranteeing that the road authority can trace it.

Notifying residents

Residents affected by the works will be notified beforehand by means of a leaflet, which they will receive five working days before work begins.

What is Elia doing about electromagnetic fields?

  • Elia respects the applicable standards and/or recommendations.
  • Elia closely monitors scientific literature concerning the potential effect of fields on health.
  • Elia actively supports the expansion of scientific knowledge through university research centres that are part of the Belgian BioElectroMagnetic Group (BBEMG)
  • Elia also supports the Electric Power Research institute (EPRI), which conducts studies at international level regarding the potential impact of fields on health.
  • Elia strives for transparency and measures electrical and magnetic fields for free if requested to do so by residents.
  • Elia provides residents with information: read the brochure on electromagnetic fields (in French).  

Respecting the reference values for electromagnetic fields along the route

The calculations made (see graph below) show the respect for the reference values specified by the authorities regarding electromagnetic fields.

Average field profiles calculated at 0, 1.5 m and 3 m for a consecutive cloverleaf formation

Average field profiles calculated at 0, 1.5 m and 3 m for installation in a pipe

Average field profiles calculated at 0, 1.5 m and 3 m perpendicular to junctions (stranded)


For more information about electromagnetic fields, visit (in French)

Reference values

In 2010, the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) recommended not exposing the population to electromagnetic fields greater than 200 µT.

The Council of Europe recommends (recommendation 1999/519/EC) limiting the population’s level of exposure (permanent exposure) to 100 µT.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies electromagnetic fields as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ (this category also includes coffee, gas fibres, pickles, and exhaust gases from petrol engines). Using this as a basis, in 2008 Belgium’s Superior Health Council issued a recommendation suggesting that children under 15 years old should not be exposed to average field values over 0.4 µT (epidemiological threshold) for a long period of time.

Although the Belgian State and the Brussels-Capital Region are aware of this situation, they have nevertheless decided against setting a specific standard for extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (50 Hz). This decision is in line with the advice from WHO, which recommends avoiding arbitrarily writing laws below the reference values recommended by international bodies (ICNIRP, Council of Europe). There is currently:

  • a regulation (AREI/RGIE) on electrical fields as well as a ministerial decree on high-frequency fields at federal level;
  • a regulation limiting the level of magnetic fields created by transformers to 100 µT in the Brussels-Capital Region;
  • a European Directive (2013/35/EU) on the exposure of workers sets a principal value of 1,000 µT for permanent exposure, the surpassing of which would launch the action outlined in this Directive.

You can find more information on this subject in the brochure published by FPS Health (in French).

Elia wishes to keep you informed and is willing to address your concerns throughout the project.

The full project team will be available to answer your questions by telephone on the freephone number 0800 18 002 or by e-mail: