Farmers protest land loss due to port expansion
About 130 farmers last week occupied the Farnese bridge near the village of Kallo on the left bank of the Scheldt river, in protest at Flemish government plans to take over nearly 1,800 hectares of farming land to extend the port of Antwerp. The occupation blocked road and river traffic for more than two hours.
The farmers’ union Boerenbond says that 250 families stand to lose all or part of their livelihood if the port authority takes over their land for extension of harbour facilities and for environmental compensation for works elsewhere.
“The future will tell if there are further actions or not. We still hope for talks with the Flemish government,” said Boerenbond representative Pieter Van Oost. The plans will also see the disappearance of two local hamlets, Rapenburg and Ouden Doel, some of whose residents joined in last week’s protest.
“For decades, the port has grown up like mushrooms in the polder area along the Scheldt,” Boerenbond added in a statement. “The Flemish government is allowing this devil’s compact between port and nature as much room as it needs, with agriculture as no more than a provider of cheap land.”