The final verdict regarding the first major CO2 transport and storage project in the Netherlands, known as Porthos, and concerns about its nitrogen depositions potentially damaging protected ecological regions, is set to be announced by authorities on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.
The Dutch Council of State will disclose its decision on the case at the scheduled time, following an examination of a recent ecological evaluation that offers insight on the possible consequences of this project on the environment.
This scenario unfolds after the nature conservation group Mobilization for the Environment (MOB) initiated legal action against Porthos in November 2021, accusing them of exploiting a regulatory exemption and creating construction plans meant for environmentally protected regions.
In November 2022, the Council of State ruled that the construction exception is invalid and goes against European laws on conserving nature. Porthos was then offered an opportunity to address the issue by conducting an ecological evaluation.
The ecological evaluation determined that the minimal and isolated nitrogen deposition during the development of Porthos will not have a notable effect on the nearby ecosystems. On Wednesday, the Council of State will decide whether it deems that the details of the environmental evaluation adequately prove this judgment.
The nitrogen lawsuit has led to delays in Porthos operations. The company’s decarbonization solution plays a crucial role in attaining the climate targets set by the Netherlands for 2030, as utilizing empty gas fields beneath the North Sea for CO2 storage results in a decrease of 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
In the event that the Council of State rejects the accusations and the project acquires the necessary long-term construction permits, Porthos will continue on with the Final Investment Decision (FID) and infrastructure plans, with the anticipation of the facility being operational by 2026.