Court bans Polar Foundation from Princess Elisabeth base

Summary

Polar explorer Alain Hubert and the International Polar Foundation have lost a case contesting their removal from the current expedition taking place at Belgium’s base in the Antarctic

AntarctiQ to lead expedition

A court in Brussels has issued an injunction against polar explorer Alain Hubert and his International Polar Foundation (IPF), preventing them from visiting the Princess Elisabeth polar base in the Antarctic. Permission for the organisation to use the SES Astra system, which allows the base to be operated remotely, has also been revoked.

The IPF went to court to contest a new law that changes the structure of the polar station (pictured), virtually wiping out the role of the IPF in its operations. “This ruling is confirmation that our restructuring of the polar base was a lawful decision,” commented Elke Sleurs, federal minister for science policy, under whose department the base falls. “The court recognised that there are two parallel expeditions being organised and that this could give rise to difficulties.”

The court’s ruling puts an end to Hubert’s plans to return to the South Pole and leaves the field open for AntartiQ, a private company based in Wervik, West Flanders. AntartiQ will act as technical operator for the government-backed expedition, preparations for which are “almost complete,” Sleurs said.

AntarctiQ was created by two of Hubert’s former collaborators. The company was selected by the council of ministers in September to lead the expedition. Hubert, a leading polar explorer and founder of IPF, accused the government of being “a Mafia-like state” and of not respecting its own laws.

Photo courtesy IPF

Princess Elisabeth station in Antarctica

The Princess Elisabeth Polar Science Station at the South Pole is the only station at altitude in Antarctica. It was developed and built by the Brussels-based International Polar Foundation with the aim of supporting research in East Antarctica.
Launch - Commissioned by the Belgian government, the station was founded as a legacy project of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year.
Renewable - The station is the world’s first polar research facility to be designed and built to operate entirely on renewable energies.
Gateway - The station offers a research gateway to the Sør Rondane Mountains, glaciers and the Antarctic Plateau so that scientists don’t need to travel far into the Antarctic wilderness to conduct their research.
9

station wind turbines

1 382

station altitude in meters

220

location from the coast in kilometres