The Dutch Council of State (Raad van State) will decide on the fate of the Porthos project this Wednesday. Porthos seeks to store CO2 emitted by industry in the Port of Rotterdam in empty gas fields in the North Sea.

The Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State will deliver its verdict on the Porthos project on Wednesday 16 August. This is a final ruling in the case and will decide whether or not the project can go ahead. The Council of State already issued an interim ruling in the case in November 2022, but that was only about the so-called construction exemption used to give permission for the Porthos project.

The verdict will be a public hearing. That session starts at 10.10 am. During the hearing, the chairman of the Administrative Jurisdiction Division, Bart Jan van Ettekoven, will read out the decision and briefly explain some of the considerations that led to the decision. The public hearing can be followed via a live stream (link to be published on the Council of State website).

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Nitrogen deposition

The ruling is about the “Porthos transport and storage of CO2” zoning plan adopted by the Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Change (EZK) and the Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning. The inclusion plan enables the Porthos project. This will allow CO2 from industry in the Rotterdam port area to be stored in empty gas fields under the North Sea.

To this end, a compressor station will be built at the Aziëweg in Rotterdam and the gas production platform P18-A in the North Sea will be converted into a platform for CO2 storage. Permits for both works have been granted by the Minister for Economic Affairs.

Coöperatie Mobilisation for the Environment U.A. (MOB) disagreed with the inclusion plan and the environmental permits and appealed against them. According to MOB, the project will lead to too much nitrogen deposition in, among others, the protected Natura 2000 areas Solleveld & Kapittelduinen, Voornes Duin and Westduinpark & Wapendal.

Previous ruling

In an interim ruling of 2 November 2022, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division ruled that the so-called construction exemption used for this project does not comply with European nature protection law. The project therefore requires an individual nitrogen impact assessment. That assessment has already been made, but was submitted too late in this procedure.

The Administrative Jurisdiction Division therefore gave MOB time to respond to this assessment in the interlocutory ruling of November 2022. The final ruling will show whether the nitrogen impact assessment is sufficient and whether or not the Porthos project can go ahead.

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