VDL Nedcar and De Groene Sporenwolf agree on environmental compensation
After constructive consultations, VDL Nedcar and the De Groene Sporenwolf (DGS) foundation have reached agreement on additional extensive compensation for the felling of trees near the car factory in Born. VDL Nedcar will be felling and replanting trees to make room for expansion. This is necessary to be able to secure the long-term employment (about 4,200 jobs) of the VDL site in Born, for any client. In return for the environmental compensation, DGS and Stichting Ecologisch Vleermuis Onderzoek Nederland (SEVON) have withdrawn their objection procedures against the area development at the Council of State.
The objections of DGS and SEVON were the only remaining protests against the area development for which the province of Limburg had previously given VDL the go-ahead. Withdrawing both objections means the expansion can be realised. Now that the objections have been abandoned, a ruling by the Council of State is no longer necessary.
Agreed environmental compensation
It has been agreed, among other things, that VDL will replant 55 trees from the Sterrebos, with a diameter of at least 40 centimetres and a height of 150 centimetres, in the adjacent Wolfrath area. The replanting will give this area more body. In addition, VDL is taking the initiative to set up a foundation that will make an extra contribution to the quality of life in and around the residential areas in the immediate vicinity of VDL Nedcar by means of green space compensation, among other things. Priority will be given to extending the so-called ambition forest to the edge of the residential area of Nieuwstadt, closing the green strip between Nieuwstadt and Randweg with new plantings and creating a green strip on the south side of Nieuwstadt. VDL will provide a considerable amount of seed capital for the green fund to be established. The costs of the environmental compensation that VDL has agreed on with DGS run into millions of euros.
Footbridge, noise barrier, bank
The compensation paid by VDL entails more. VDL Nedcar will also endeavour to install a footbridge over the provincial road (N297), which will restore the walking route from Nieuwstadt to the Limbrichterbos. In addition, VDL Nedcar will also commit itself to the realisation of a noise barrier and green bank south of Nieuwstadt, between Nusterweg/Sittarderweg and the border.
New nature with civic participation
“After three years of litigation, good and open discussions with VDL Nedcar have resulted in us receiving millions more for nature and quality of life,” says Dirkjan van der Hoven, secretary of the De Groene Sporenwolf foundation. “A permanent collaboration like this, between the company, local residents and municipalities, is also a boost for civic participation. Consultation with citizens will be important for the deployment of these resources in the coming period.”
Replanting large trees
René Janssen, chairman of SEVON: “SEVON regrets that under current policies, it is possible to cut down such forests on old sites. Because of the extra compensation and the replanting of large trees, the deal is an improvement compared to the compensation plan previously adopted by the province of Limburg. VDL Nedcar is showing its good will with this.”
VDL Nedcar director John van Soerland: “Although we had confidence in the ruling of the Council of State, we’re pleased we’ve reached agreement with the objectors before the court has had to make a decision. We value a good relationship with our neighbours and the quality of life of the residential areas near our factory is close to our heart.”
The intensive process with the province and municipalities that should lead to the spatial expansion of VDL Nedcar has been going of for seven years now. During that period, a thorough democratic decision-making process was completed. All stakeholders have been involved in this. The importance of ecology also weighed heavily. From the start of the process, an extensive environmental compensation plan was chosen, which goes much further than prescribed by the rules. For the sake of clarity, the new foundation and the aforementioned facilities are now added to this, together with DGS. The most important parts of that earlier environmental compensation plan are:
- Tree planting (2-fold compared to trees to be felled)
- 130 bat boxes
- New badger’s setts
- New herb-rich grassland
- New fruit trees
- New beehives
- Socially, sustainably and circularly renovated castle
- New cycling and walking tracks, giving the area an enhanced recreational character.
The timber from the felled trees will be made available to, among others, schools in Limburg that provide practical training in woodworking. By having students make wooden benches, tables, twig banks, bridges and insect hotels, an attempt is made to give the felled wood in and around the Wolfrath recreation area and on the VDL Nedcar site a sustainable, new use.
Quality of Life
The environmental compensation plan, which was already largely realised previously, in combination with the additional measures to be taken, is being used to improve the quality of life of VDL Nedcar’s neighbours. DGS and VDL Nedcar will invite the municipalities of Sittard-Geleen and Echt-Susteren to join the board of the foundation in formation.
About VDL Nedcar
VDL Nedcar in Born is an independent car manufacturer that manufactures cars for third parties. It is the only large car factory in the Netherlands that has been part of the VDL Groep family business in Eindhoven since the end of 2012. Currently, there are 4,200 employees. The factory has a production capacity of up to 200,000 cars per year, on a two-shift basis. VDL Nedcar uses a highly automated production process (1,400 industrial robots). Since the start in 1967, more than 5.5 million cars (DAF, Volvo, Smart, Mitsubishi, MINI and BMW) have rolled off the production line in Born. VDL Nedcar currently manufactures the MINI Cabrio, the MINI Countryman and the BMW X1; of the MINI Countryman, we also produce the PHEV model.