According to a discussion document circulating among the ministers of the Flemish government, Doel will later this year be re-zoned from residential area to harbour territory. As De Standaard, which revealed the contents of the document, revealed, that will finally allow the last residents to be bought out of their property in preparation for the annihilation of the village. According to the document, chances are that Doel would be excavated to provide materials for the construction of the Oosterweel connection – another controversial project in the Antwerp area. Following the construction of that link, intended to close the circle of the Antwerp ring-road, what’s left of Doel would be transformed at some later date into a new dock.
The excavation of Doel for the Oosterweel connection, explained minister-president Kris Peeters in the Flemish parliament, is only one of four possibilities being discussed, and no decision has been reached.
The decision to re-zone Doel would seem to signal the end of a conflict between the 180 remaining residents of the village and the Flemish government and Port of Antwerp. Under the plan, Doel will disappear entirely; its three listed monuments – a 17th-century windmill, the organ in the parish church and the village’s oldest building, dating back to 1614 – will be transported to other locations and reconstructed.
The plan also includes a new element: the compulsory purchase of an area of about 1,600 hectares around Doel, including polder land, to be reserved for further extension of harbour facilities. In the photo, these are marked out in green, purple and blue. Doel is shown as an island among the three areas. The yellow line marks the Dutch border. The land in question, according to Jan Creve, one of the leading activists against the destruction of Doel, includes 385 homes in the towns of Ouden Doel, Saftingen and Rapenburg.
“The Flemish government’s document reads like a horror story,” commented Creve. “Yet the truth is this is bitter reality.”