February 2018

Speeding up work before the renovation of the Leopold II tunnel begins

In connection with the work of the Site Coordination Committee, the various stakeholders, including Elia, were asked to speed up their work in the area affected by the Leopold II tunnel with a view to preventing work being carried out at the same time (which would have a major impact on traffic). Renovation of the tunnel is currently scheduled to start in early May, so Elia has begun (or will begin in the near future) to renovate the grid between Avenue de l'Héliport and Sainctelette on Quai des Charbonnages and Quai du Hainaut in the Simonis area and on Avenue des Gloires Nationales.

May 2017

Protocol of 150 kV best practices concluded

Since May 2017, a mandatory protocol on laying new high-voltage cables in the Brussels-Capital Region has set out a series of best practices that now apply in said region when laying 150-kV cables. Taking into account the various social concerns to be reconciled (e.g. security of supply, investment management, impact on traffic and the environment), this protocol ensures in particular compliance with the minimum distance between homes and the site of the cable, and requires Elia to demonstrate to the regional government that it has made efforts to respect the preferred installation distances.

Since this protocol came into force, Elia has successfully plotted routes that comply with the minimum distances as well as the preferred distances for all projects to be implemented.

The project 


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 by 2019 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 involves the renewal and restructuring of the connections between the substations of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Héliport, and Bruegel (Dilbeek, Flemish Region).




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.

Since May 2017, a specific protocol for the construction of 150kV cables under public roads has also been established with the Brussels region.

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
  • Analysis of the route (topographical surveys, sounding if required)
  • Extensive analysis of the route as described in the objectives of the regional protocol (adjustment if necessary)               
  • 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


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).


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