Appeal lodged with the Walloon government
The municipalities of Courcelles, Seneffe, Nivelles and Ittre have lodged an appeal with the Walloon government against the delegated officials' decision to grant a permit for the overhaul of the connection linking Gouy and Oisquercq. The government has a period of 95 days in which to rule on this matter.
As a reminder, the Public Service Wallonia issued the planning permit for this project on 29 December 2017. Municipalities had until 2 February 2018 to appeal.
Planning permit acquired for Gouy-Oisquercq connection overhaul
On 29 December 2017, the Public Service Wallonia issued the planning permit for the Gouy-Oisquercq electricity connection overhaul project. This is an important stage in this crucial regional project.
Submission of the urban planning permit scheduled for mid-August
After several months of analysis, the consultancy CSD Engineers presented Elia with the results of its Environmental Impact Study for the Gouy-Oisquercq Project.
Currently, Elia teams are carefully reviewing the study's conclusions and recommendations so as to refine the project presented at the public information meeting.
At this stage, Elia plans to submit the permit application to the officials responsible in the Walloon Region in August.
Once the regional administration deems the application complete and admissible, a public consultation will be organised by the relevant municipalities.
The Gouy-Oisquercq project – Environmental Impact Study under way
Attendees at the advance public information meeting held in Seneffe on 8 November 2016 saw Elia showcase its preliminary version of the project intended to upgrade the 2 x 150 kV high-voltage overhead connection linking the electrical substations at Gouy and Oisquercq. .
Elia received three letters from local residents following this meeting and two additional information sessions at Ittre and Courcelles. The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) incorporates comments and suggestions made by residents in these letters as well as during the public information meeting.
Project currently in the hands of CSD
The Gouy-Oisquercq project has spent the past five months in the hands of CSD Engineers, an independent European environmental engineering and consulting group approved by the Walloon Region. CSD is currently analysing the ways in which the project and the associated works may impact the environment in the broadest sense (e.g. ground, air, water, climate, biological environment, landscape and heritage, urban and spatial planning, mobility, waste, health and safety, socio-economic aspects, noise, quality of life, residents). The EIS also looks into feasible alternatives regarding the project.
CSD will provide Elia with a range of recommendations to avoid, minimise or offset any impact on the environment.
Public consultation scheduled for October
Elia will use the EIS' conclusions and recommendations to prepare its urban planning permit application, which Elia should submit to the officials responsible in the Walloon Region by the end of summer.
Municipal authorities will then organise a public consultation, during which said authorities will make available the entire file, alongside the EIS and non-technical summary, for citizens to consult.
The public consultation is currently scheduled for October.
In the meantime, you can contact our team with any questions by calling 0800 18 002 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By 2020, we are planning to renovate the 2 x 150-kV high-voltage overhead lines connecting the high-voltage substations at Gouy and Oisquercq.
This connection, which is now reaching the end of its technical life, consists of 64 pylons with metal lattice frameworks and spans the areas of Courcelles, Seneffe, Nivelles, Ittre and Tubize over a distance of 23 km.
The renovation application for this connection is currently still in the project stage. Before Elia can carry out the project, we need to acquire a planning permit from the authorities.
In accordance with legislation, Elia presented the project to affected residents at the advance information meeting on 8 November in Seneffe.
This advance information meeting officially launched the Environmental Impact Study, which will last a minimum of three months. This study is being carried out by an independent firm, CSD Engineers, which has a contract provided by the Walloon Region.
Local residents have 15 days following the meeting on 8 November in which to ask questions and make comments, which will then be taken into account in the study.
As well as the official and mandatory advance information meeting, we are organising two additional information sessions during these 15 days so that residents can find out information in a less formal way.
These are being organised in Ittre and Courcelles between 6.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. on:
- Wednesday,16 November: Ecole de la Fléchère, rue des Communes 5, 6181 Gouy-Lez-Piéton
- Thursday, 17 November: Salle de la Planchette, rue de la Planchette 6, 1460 Ittre
If you have questions about this project, we cordially invite you to join us on one of these days. We will be happy to answer your questions and listen to your comments.
The Gouy-Oisquercq project – Working towards a more reliable grid
According to the findings of audits conducted in 2006 and 2014, the current connection, installed in 1959 in the municipalities of Courcelles, Seneffe, Nivelles, Ittre and Tubize, is reaching the end of its life.
To keep the national grid reliable and guarantee the safety of citizens and infrastructure, we recommend performing maintenance work on the electrical connection by replacing all pylons along the route by 2020.
The Gouy-Oisquercq project is part of the major 2015-2025 Federal Development Plan, which has been approved by the Minister of Energy.
The 64 new pylons installed between the high-voltage substations at Gouy and Oisquercq would also comply with the new standards in effect, which are more stringent than those in force in 1959.
Generally, Elia's policy on infrastructure is to comply with the most stringent standard in effect at the time of construction.
By investing some €20 million in the overhaul of this high-voltage line, Elia would guarantee safety and ensure the reliability of the grid and its infrastructure for the next 80 years.
A new connection, the same route
The route, type of pylon and voltage level would be IDENTICAL
Elia's investment policy must be made with due diligence: every euro spent must be authorised by the government(s) as part of a federal/regional plan and invested wisely.
In this context, when a new infrastructure project is being reviewed, a number of criteria influence the decision. The first criterion taken into consideration is to make sure that existing Elia assets are upgraded, whether in terms of infrastructure or permits and authorisations, and to bring them up to date to reflect new needs that have arisen and new technologies that are available.
As far as the Gouy-Oisquercq project is concerned, since the connection was built, Elia has had a Declaration of Public Utility and road permit to operate a 2 x 150 kV overhead electrical connection. Furthermore, this electrical connection is part of the sector plan. Elia also owns around 90% of the land where the pylons are located.
On this basis and in order to adhere to its development principles, Elia has decided to upgrade its assets and authorisations by keeping the connection on the same route.
The type of infrastructure and transmission capacity will be identical.
However, to comply with the current standards in force, the new pylons may be slightly taller and wider but the average heights will remain the same.
Therefore, the connection would not look any different to local residents after the Gouy-Oisquercq project is completed.
The route: the pylons would be located in the same places as the current structures
Number of pylons: 64
Type of pylon: lattice framework
Average pylon height: the same
Voltage: 2 x 150 kV
Electrical power: the same
Dialogue at the heart of the administrative procedure
As when building a house, you need to submit a planning permit application and comply with a number of legal obligations when constructing new infrastructure such as this project.
The main purpose of the administrative procedure is to enable citizens to find out about the project, ask questions and make comments, which will be taken into account in the Environmental Impact Study. This study will support the permit application that will be submitted to the officials responsible in the Walloon Region and will provide important information and recommendations for the authorities, who will be able to make an informed decision on whether or not to issue the permit.
The various stages of the administrative procedure are as follows:
- 2015: Included in 2015-2025 Federal Development Plan and approval gained from the Minister of Energy for the Gouy-Oisquercq line overhaul project.
June 2016: Meetings and information sessions held with local partners.
8 November 2016: Advance public information meeting: project officially presented to the public. Citizens then have 15 days in which to submit comments to Elia.
- November 2016: Additional sessions organised in partnership with the mayors of affected municipalities who would like them.
- November 2016 → May 2017: The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) will be conducted by an independent engineering firm, which will, among other things, respond to all questions and comments put forward at the public information meeting.
- August 2017: Planning permit application submitted to the Walloon Region.
- October 2017: Public surveys – citizens will examine the planning permit application and have 30 days in which to submit their comments to the municipal authorities.
- 2018 → 2020: Work to overhaul the connection.
Gouy-Oisquercq: a seven-stage project
Throughout this major project, which is currently estimated to take2.5 years, Elia will ensure that it takes all necessary measures to limit the work's impact, maintain the residents' quality of life and preserve the environment at large.
In short, Elia is installing a new overhead connection in seven distinct stages.
Stage 1 - Lopping and clearance
Lopping/clearance may be required at some points along the route. This would be done in consultation with the land owners and operators.
Stage 2 - Creating access roads
Creating temporary access roads to the site is the first stage that is crucial for the work. The access roads will mainly be used to meet the project's one-off transport needs when work is underway. They will be 5-6 metres wide and suitable for motor vehicles.
Stage 3 - Dismantling old pylons
Conductors will be removed section by section and immediately rewound using pulling and braking machines. The pylons will be dismantled and the foundations removed from the ground. They will then be taken away by lorry.
Stage 4 - Laying foundations
The location and size of the old foundations will be adapted to match the new ones so that each pylon's concrete foundation can be poured. New pylons will be erected in the same places as the old ones.
Stage 5 - Erecting new pylons
The pylons will be transported by lorry. The pylons will arrive in separate parts and will be assembled and erected on site. The last stage consists of pulling the cables from end to end so they can be attached to the metal crossarms.
Stage 6 - Clearing up the site
As soon as the project is finished, the temporary access roads will be dismantled and the land will be restored to its original state. All waste from the site will be collected and taken to an accredited waste processing centre. A final survey will be conducted of the site area.
Stage 7 - Developing biodiversity – fauna and biotope projects
The pylon bases can be set out in such a way as to limit maintenance costs and boost the ecological network.
Elia does everything it can to limit noise and disruption caused by the site and guarantee safety
- Noisy work will only be carried out during 'working' hours, unless otherwise agreed with the relevant authorities in order to reduce the impact on mobility at specific times.
- Site vehicles will only leave their engines running when necessary.
- Throughout the project, work areas will be clearly demarcated. Furthermore, a site safety coordinator will ensure the smooth running of the site.
- Site meetings will also be held with the contractors to discuss points for attention (e.g. itinerary and waste sorting).
- When the existing line is being dismantled, safety gantries will be put in place while the power cables are pulled to protect infrastructure along the route (roads and homes).
- If the work requires temporary road closures, suitable diversions and signs will be put in place in cooperation with the police area.
- Work-in-progress signs will be put up in cooperation with the local police and will provide residents with the necessary information (in particular, the site's start and end dates).
- Leaflets will be distributed two weeks before work actually begins.
- Throughout its projects, Elia regularly updates citizens on the work's progress. In fact, we make a point of providing clear and regular information to local residents about our infrastructure projects.
Elia is committed to conducting every one of its projects with the utmost respect for local residents. In coordination with the local authorities, Elia is doing its best to communicate directly and transparently with residents and respond to their queries throughout the duration of the project.
A lot of support material has been made available to local residents:
The entire Gouy-Oisquercq project team would be happy to help with any comments or questions!