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Campaigners lose appeal against Brussels' newest tram line
Residents in Neder-Over-Heembeek, in the north of Brussels, have lost their appeal against the construction of a new tram line connecting the neighbourhood to the city centre.
Belgium's Council of State has rejected a request from local campaigners who wanted to suspend the construction of Stib tram line 10.
Locals had mounted fierce opposition to the plans, with more than 2,500 signing a protest petition and posting “No to the Tram in NOH" (Neder-Over-Heembeek) signs in windows locally.
The court's decision to over-rule their opposition was announced by Philippe Close (PS), the mayor of Brussels.
In a post on Twitter, Close said the authorities had not accepted any of the six reasons put forward to justify the suspension of the project.
Previously, Close had accepted the new line had split the community, reportedly saying: “I can't please everyone. I announced before the elections that this was in my plans so [the opposition] is not a surprise. There will always be people who are unhappy.”
According to the Council of State, Belgium’s supreme administrative court, the Brussels government “has remained within the limits of its discretionary powers and no error of assessment has been identified”.
Neder-Over-Heembeek is an annex of the City of Brussels, with a population of 17,000 residents, and is located between Laeken, Vilvoorde and the Brussels-Scheldt canal.
The plan for the construction of tram line 10 involves nine new stops: Hôpital Militaire, Mercator, Antoon Van Oss, Trassersweg, Nelson Mandela, Chemin Vert, Peter Benoit, Zavelput and Ancre.
The line will then join the existing network at Heembeek public transport interchange and continue to Rogier, following the route of tram line 3 via Jules de Trooz.
Stib has estimated that, when complete, the line will be used by between 1,600 to 2,400 passengers per hour during rush hour.
The court, whose members include high level jurists, stated that the tram extension was justified and that an impact assessment of the project “makes sense”.
It said: "The file makes it possible to understand the reasons why the tram and the route were chosen and why the alternatives were rejected."
Further reaction to the decision came from Arnaud Pinxteren (Ecolo), Brussels-City alderman for citizen participation, who said the outcome was recognition of the consultative work that the City of Brussels and the Brussels region had undertaken with local citizens.
"The participatory work has justified the choice for the Neder-Over-Heembeek tram and a route has been collectively agreed," he said.
"Together with residents, we have thought about the developments that the arrival of the tram line entails."